The Evangelist, You, or God?
- Why are you a Christian, but your unconverted friend is not?
- Where did your repentance and faith come from: You or God?
- Understand Calvinism, Arminianism & free will explained simply
with one chart, 23 questions, and 136 verses…
By Greg Gibson – JesusSaidFollowMe.org
Have you ever wondered why you’re a Christian, but your unconverted friend is not? Why did you receive Christ, but your friend rejected Him? Did you hear a better evangelist? Or, were you smarter than your friend? Or, did God make you to differ? (And, how can Calvinism and Arminianism help you understand the answer?)
In each of the 2 columns below, there are several verses. Which verses are true, the ones on the left, or the ones on the right? Since the Bible is true (“inerrant,”) we must interpret both sets of “seemingly contradictory” verses. How can we harmonize both sets of verses so they’re both true at the same time? Look for any verses that clearly state sinners can/can’t or are able/unable to come to Christ…
Are Sinners Able or Unable to Come to Christ?
On the left, are 9 verses inviting or commanding sinners to repent, believe, and come to Christ. These verses make sinners responsible to come to Christ. Notice, the number of verses that clearly state sinners can or are able to come to Christ: 0
On the right, are 13 verses clearly stating sinners can’t come to Christ. (In addition, the Bible contains 3 verses clearly showing Christians inability to do anything for Christ, without His power: Jn. 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:3; Heb. 11:6. If Christians are unable to do anything without God’s ability, then how much more impotent are unregenerate sinners?)
Which verses are true? The verses on the left stating sinners must come to Christ, or the verses on the right stating sinners can’t come to Christ? Since God’s Word is inerrant, they’re both true. Then, how can we harmonize both sets of “seemingly contradictory” verses so they’re both true at the same time?
3 Different Views of Our Responsibility vs. Inability to Believe
There are 3 popular views attempting to interpret the above verses: Arminianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Calvinism. Of the 3, Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism are the 2 extremes. Calvinism is the middle view.
1. Human Ability vs. No Interpretation (Some Arminians)
Many Arminians interpret the verses on the left labeled “Human Responsibility” at the expense of the verses on the right labeled “Human Inability.” Most have no interpretation for the 13 verses on the right explicitly stating sinners can’t, or aren’t able to come to Christ. They interpret the verses on the left commanding responsibility as though they implied ability. Here’s their logical fallacy:
|The Logical Fallacy of Some Arminians
First Premise: God commands sinners to repent, believe & come to Christ.
Assumed Premise: (God would not command what we’re unable to do.)
Conclusion: Therefore, sinners are able to repent, believe & come to Christ.
There is no proof for the 2nd premise. It’s assuming what you’re trying to prove. Plus, if we could find only one example in Scripture where God commands more than we are able, it would also refute the assumption.
6 Examples Where God Commanded the Impossible
Below, are 6 examples where God commands humans to do something which they do not have the ability to do. In the first 4 verses, God commanded physically dead corpses to live. But, they had no desire or ability to respond, until God first gave them new life, with new desire and ability. (Likewise, we’ll see later that He commands spiritually dead men to live, then gives them new life-regeneration, desire, and ability.)
1. “Prophecy to these (dead) bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’” (Ezek. 37:4 Notice, those dead bones had no ability to hear the word of the Lord. God had to give those skeletons life first, before they had the ability to hear the word of the Lord.)
2. “a dead man was being carried out…Then He came and touched the open coffin…and He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’” (Lk. 7:14 The dead man couldn’t hear, until Christ first gave His miraculous power to him.)
3. “Your daughter is dead…He…took her by the hand and called saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.” (Lk. 8:49-55 The dead girl had no power to arise until Christ gave it to her.)
4. “Lazarus, come forth!” (Jn. 11:43, Lazarus was dead! He had no ability to come forth. First, God had to make him alive before He had the ability to come forth.)
5. “Therefore you shall be perfect (complete), just as your father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48)
6. “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
Just as it took a supernatural miracle to raise the physically dead before they could respond, so it takes a supernatural miracle to raise (regenerate) the spiritually dead before they can respond.
|“Just as it took a supernatural miracle to raise the physically dead before they could respond, so it takes a supernatural miracle to raise (regenerate) the spiritually dead before they can respond.”|
2. No Interpretation vs. Human Inability (Some Hyper-Calvinists)
Many Hyper-Calvinists interpret the verses on the right labeled “Human Inability” at the expense of the verses on the left labeled “Human Responsibility.” They don’t command or invite all men to repent, believe, & come to Christ. They don’t proclaim the gospel to all sinners. They preach the gospel selectively only to those they think are elect.
|The Logical Fallacy of Some Hyper-Calvinists
First Premise: Sinners are unable to repent, believe & come to Christ.
Notice, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism share the exact same assumed premise: “God would not command what is unable.” Both Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism exalt human reason above Divine revelation. They resort to humanism-rationalism.
3. Human Responsibility vs. Human Inability (Calvinism)
Sinners are responsible to repent, believe, and come to Christ. Yet, at the same time, they’re unable to repent, believe, and come to Christ. This is the only solution that can harmonize both sets of “seemingly contradictory” verses as simultaneously true.
(If it seems unfair to you that God holds rebels responsible for what they’re unable to do, then please remember no one deserves salvation. True justice would be hell for the whole human race, wouldn’t it? So, if God decides to give to some the desire and ability to come to Christ, then that’s undeserved grace!)
But, why then does God command and invite sinners to believe, if they’re unable? Perhaps, He uses the commands/invitations to come to Christ, as the “means to the end.”
In other words, perhaps He uses the command to repent, as the means to granting repentance. And, He uses the command to believe, as the means to giving the gift of faith. And, He uses the invitation to come to Christ, as the means to give the desire and ability to come.
The idea that God uses commands as a means to an end is also demonstrated in how He preserves us in salvation. For, He actually warns true Christians of eternal damnation in Jn. 15:2, 6; Rom. 11:20-22; 1 Cor. 9:25, 27; Rev. 22:19, etc. And at the same time, He promises us eternal security. How then can we reconcile these 2 “seemingly contradictory” truths? It’s simple…
He uses the warnings of losing our salvation as the means to preserve us in His promised eternal salvation. His warnings of losing salvation are the means He uses to keep us persevering to the end
Here’s a clear example where God used warning as the means to the end of fulfilling His promise.
|Promises of Divine Security:
“there will be no loss of life among you…” (Acts 27:22)
“God has granted you all those…with you.” (Acts 27:24)
“not a hair will fall from the head of any…” (Acts 27:34)
Warning of Human Responsibility:
Now, how in the world could God possibly warn of those sailors losing their lives, since He just promised that they wouldn’t lose their lives? It’s simple…God used the warning of death to keep them in the ship, to preserve them from death.
Likewise, He uses the command to repent, as the means to grant repentance. And, He uses the command to believe, as a means to give the gift of faith. And, He uses the invitations to come to Christ, as the means to draw sinners to Christ. To understand how God saved you, keep reading…
There are 2 popular views of how God saves sinners:
1. Some believe all sinners are born with the desire and ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and exercise their own “free will” to choose Christ. (Arminianism)
2. Some believe that in the Fall, all sinners lost the desire and ability to come to Christ. So, God graciously gives to some both the desire and ability to freely will to choose Christ. (Calvinism)
So, before we examine what God has said in the Bible about who gets the credit for salvation, let’s consider a few introductory thoughts…
The question is settled if we can find only one verse clearly stating:
Sinners can come to Christ.
Sinners are able to come to Christ.
It’s possible for sinners to come to Christ.
Human logic or reason could never ever explain away such a clear statement of sinners’ ability to come to Christ.
Or, the question is settled if we can find only one verse clearly stating:
Sinners can’t come to Christ.
Sinners are not able to come to Christ.
It’s impossible for sinners to come to Christ.
Again, human logic or reason could never explain away such a clear statement of sinners inability to come to Christ.
Many Doctrinal Errors Interpret One Set of Verses
At the Expense of Another Set of Verses
This common interpretive error is made by both cultists and Christians. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a good example. You quote a verse about Christ’s deity. Then, they reply by saying, “But, what about this other verse?” (It’s as if their verse makes your verse false.) When you hear the reply, “But, what about this verse,” it may be a sign of interpreting Scripture against itself.
Instead of harmonizing both verses as true, the JW’s interpret one verse at the expense of another verse. In effect, one verse is true, while the other verse is false, or has no interpretation. They interpret Scripture as “either/or,” when they should interpret it as “both/and.”
If you have no interpretation for a verse or set of verses, that’s always the wrong interpretation. It’s a sign that something is wrong with your system. When a verse won’t fit into your system, it’s time to reconsider your system.
|“If you have no interpretation for a verse or set of verses, that’s always the wrong interpretation.”|
But, What About Free Will?
The phrase “free will” is found in the Bible 16 times. All 16 times it means “voluntary.” Fifteen of those times it’s used of a freewill (voluntary) offering. Not one of those 16 times does “free will” refer to salvation. Also, the idea that man has a “free will” independent from God’s rule, probably had its origin in heathen, Greek philosophy.
|“…the idea that man has a ‘free will’ independent from God’s rule, probably had its origin in heathen, Greek philosophy.”|
Those Who Use the Phrase “Free Will” Rarely Define it
“Free will” is the topic everyone assumes, but few define. If “free will” is defined as the “ability and desire to will to receive Christ”, then that contradicts the 13 verses in the right column above. But, if “free will” is defined as “voluntary will to make choices,” then humans have “free will.”
We have free will in the sense we freely (voluntarily) will whatever we have both the desire and ability to do. God influences us by circumstances, thoughts, and power so we become voluntarily willing to fulfill His will. Perhaps a better phrase than “free will” is “voluntary will.”
You may be surprised to discover that many Protestants share the Jesuit-Romanist view of free will. They think sinners have some inner desire and ability to “prepare and cooperate” with the Holy Spirit for salvation. They don’t understand that since the Fall, humans are spiritually dead, blind, and deaf, with no desire or ability to choose Christ. They don’t see the need for God to first give new birth, faith, and repentance, before sinners can “freely will” to choose Christ.
|Many Protestants Believe the Jesuit- Roman Catholic View of Free Will
(The Roman Catholic Council of Trent, The Sixth Session: Justification)
Canon IV. If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, no-wise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.
Canon V. If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.
Actually, you probably already believe that God’s will rules man’s will, but you just didn’t know it…
4 Examples How God’s Will Rules Man’s Will
1. Inspiration of Scripture
2. Infallibility of Bible prophecy
3. Eternal security
4. Heaven/new earth
1. Inspiration of Scripture: Do you believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture? If so, then you believe God ruled the wills of the Bible authors. They did not have “free will” to write errors in Scripture. Thankfully, the Lord kept their wills from error.
“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16)
2. Infallibility of Bible Prophecy: Do you believe the Bible prophecies are infallible? If so, then you believe God ruled the wills of the prophets. They did not have “free will” to prophesy errors. God inspired the Old Testament prophets to prophesy accurately about the coming Messiah. During the inspiration process, He influenced and ruled their wills to keep them from error:
“no prophecy of the Scripture came into being of its own private interpretation. For prophecy was not borne at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke being borne along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:2-21)
That’s why the test of a true prophet vs. a false prophet is the infallibility of their predictions (Deut. 18:21-22.) If the prophets could have exercised their own wills, free from God’s control, then they never could have infallibly predicted Christ’s virgin birth, city of birth, suffering death, resurrection, second coming, etc.
3. Eternal Security: Do you believe in “eternal security?” If so, then you believe God rules believers’ wills. Most Christians agree they can’t fall away finally from Christ. Christians don’t have “free will” to become atheists or Satan worshippers. Thankfully, the Lord influences our wills to keep us believing and persevering in Him until the end.
“I will give you a new heart (will) and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart (will) of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezek. 36:quot;Arial?strong
“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
4. Heaven/New Earth: Finally, even if you don’t believe in eternal security in this life, still you probably believe Christians can never leave heaven or the new earth. If so, then you believe God rules His peoples’ wills. No one in heaven is free to leave and choose Hell. God will keep them willingly in heaven forever.
So, if you believe in biblical inerrancy, prophetic infallibility, or eternal security, then you already believe man doesn’t have a 100% “free will.” God’s will sovereignly rules our wills. And, I’m glad He does, aren’t you?
|“So, if you believe in biblical inerrancy, prophetic infallibility, or eternal security, then you already believe man doesn’t have a 100% ‘free will.’ God’s will sovereignly rules our wills.”|
23 Questions on Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Below, you’ll see 23 simple questions designed to help you decide what God has said in the Bible about how we come to Christ. Some of the verses answer the questions explicitly, while others offer implicit principles for your consideration.
Granted, some of the either/or answers may not necessarily be mutually exclusive. (You can make them mutually exclusive by adding before each question the phrase, “In this/these verse[s]…) Yet, taken as a whole, these verses are (Acts 17:30) p align=”left” class=”MsoNormal” style=””/p/strongb Do you believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture? If so, then you believe God ruled the wills of the Bible authors. They did not have “free will” to write errors in Scripture. Thankfully, the Lord kept their wills from error.strong a powerful witness to God’s sovereign rule over our salvation.
All Christians believe humans make choices. The issue is how do we choose Christ – by internal, self ability and desire, or external, God-given ability and desire? And, if God gives His ability and desire to us, can we resist, or does He prevail?
1. Was your will free from Satan’s control, yes or no?
“So ought not this woman…whom Satan has bound…for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Lk. 13:16)
“the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:26)
2. Was your will free from sin’s control, yes or no?
“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, &? he is caught in the cords of his sin.” (Pr. 5:22)
“whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34)
“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:23)
“you were slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17)
“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaving various lusts and pleasures” (Tit. 3:3)
“they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” (2 Pet. 2:19)
3. Is God sovereign & in control over humans’ wills including yours, no or yes?
“you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)
“But I will harden his (Pharaoh’s) heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Ex. 4:21)
“And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (Ex. 12:36)
“And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Ex. 14:17)
“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand” (Deut. 2:30)
“For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them” (Josh. 11:20)
“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech” (Jud. 9:23)
“the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” (2 Sam. 24:1)
“The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets” (1 Kings 22:23)
“that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom” (Ezra 1:1-3)
“the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God” (Ezra 6:22)
“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.” (Ps. 105:25)
“A man’s heart (will) plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Pr. 16:9)
“The king’s heart (will) is in the hand of the LORD…He turns it wherever He wishes. (Pr. 21:1)
“Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger…I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge…Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so” (Is. 10:5-7)
“For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Is. 14:27)
“Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure’” (Is. 44:28)
“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever” (Jer. 32:39)
“I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” (Jer. 32:40)
“I will give you a new heart (will) and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart (will) of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezek. 36:26-27)
“For His dominion is and everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” (Dan. 4:34-35)
“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28)
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
“Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” (Rom. 9:19)
“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Cor. 12:11)
“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (Jas. 4:15)
“For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” (Rev. 17:17)
God Is in Control of ALL Things,
and Sovereign Over ALL Things
Wow! Could God possibly make it any clearer that He controls our wills? What we’re saying is: God is in control (of ALL things, even salvation.) He is sovereign (over ALL things, even salvation.) Most Christians acknowledge He’s in control only in a general, vague sense. But, He tells us He’s in control of every minute detail of His universe, even your decisions, and the number of hairs on your head.
In the Fall, Did Adam & His Offspring Lose
Their Desire and Ability to Come to Christ?
4. After Adam and Eve sinned, did they move toward God, or hide from Him?
“Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God” (Gen. 3:8)
5. Did Adam initiate contact with God, or did God initiate contact with Adam?
“Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 3:9)
6. As a fallen sinner, were you just spiritually sick, or spiritually dead?
“for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17)
“you…who were dead in trespasses and sins…even when you were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1, 5)
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive” (Col. 2:13)
The spiritually dead can’t raise themselves. They must be raised by God.
7. Could you spiritually see the gospel, or were you spiritually blind?
“yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive & eyes to see & ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4)
“I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (Mt. 13:13-15)
“Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’” (Jn. 12:38-40)
“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins” (Acts 26:18)
“there is none who understands” (Rom. 3:11)
“But their minds were blinded.” (2 Cor. 3:14)
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
The blind can’t see, until God first gives them sight.
8. Could you spiritually hear the gospel, or were you spiritually deaf?
“yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive & eyes to see & ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4)
“I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (Mt. 13:13-15)
9. When you were spiritually dead, blind, & deaf, did you desire & seek God, yes or no?
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)
“men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” (Jn. 3:19)
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light” (Jn. 3:20)
“haters of God” (Rom. 1:30)
“There is none who seeks after God.” (Rom. 3:11)
“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” (Rom. 10:20)
10. Are unbelievers not sheep because they don’t believe, or do they not believe because they’re not sheep?
“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.” (Jn. 10:26)
11. When you were spiritually dead, deaf & blind, were you born again by your will, or God’s will?
“who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn. 1:13)
“it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Rom. 9:16)
“of His own will He brought us forth (birthed us) by the word of truth” (Jas. 1:18)
How much of a part did you have in willing your own physical conception? None! Your parents conceived you by their own wills. As it is with physical birth, so it is with spiritual birth. You didn’t ask to be birthed. The Father birthed you.
Then, the question arises, “If fallen, dead, deaf, blind sinners can’t come to Christ, then how do they come to Christ?” Does God give the new birth because they believed, or so that they can believe? In other words, is faith the cause of the new birth, or is the new birth the cause of faith?
To believe that fallen, dead, deaf, blind sinners repented and believed to be born again is like getting the cart before the horse. Logically, they must have first been spiritually born again, before they could repent and believe in Christ.
Well, whether faith or the new birth comes first is irrelevant – because God gives not only the new birth, but also faith and repentance, so He gets all the credit, as you’ll see below…
12. Did God predestine your adoption & inheritance according to your will, or His will?
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4-5)
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11)
13. Did God choose you because you would believe, or so that you would believe?
“God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thes. 2:13)
14. Whose choice made the ultimate difference, the apostles’ choice, or God’s choice?
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (Jn. 15:16)
15. Whose will made Paul an apostle, his own will, or God’s will?
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Cor. 1:1)
16. Did God call you according to your purpose (will,) or His purpose?
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom (not “what”) He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:28-29)
“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9)
17. Who opened your heart, you or God?
“He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Lk. 24:45)
“The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14)
18. How many of the lost does God call/draw, all or only some?
“Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Mt. 11:27)
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn. 6:44)
“Moreover whom He predestined, these he also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”(Rom. 8:30)
19. How many of those whom God calls/draws respond, some or all?
“And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)
“whom He called, these He also justified” (Rom. 8:30)
“concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom. 11:28-29)
20. Who did your repentance come from, you or God?
“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5: 31)
“God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18)
“those who are in opposition, if God perhaps willgrant them repentance so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)
21. Who did your faith come from, you or God?
“…those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8)
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer…” (Phil. 1:29)
“God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thes. 2:13)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17)
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2)
“to those who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God” (2 Pet. 1:1)
22. Who made the difference in your decision for Christ, the evangelist or God?
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7)
23. Who made the difference in your decision for Christ, you or God?
“that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus…that as is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’” (1 Cor. 1:29-31)
“For who makes you differ? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7)
“But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
If you made the difference in your decision for Christ, then you’d have reason to boast, wouldn’t you? Many credit God for 99% of salvation, and themselves for the other 1% (their decision.) Will you give Him ALL the glory?
Man Gets the Credit for Sin,
But God Gets the Credit for Salvation
Ever since Adam and Eve’s Fall, their offspring are spiritually dead, deaf, and blind. And, they freely, willingly, voluntarily choose sin instead of God. So, the Bible always makes man responsible for his sin. God is never responsible for man’s sin.
But, ever since Adam and Eve’s Fall, God (by His undeserved grace) initiates contact with some sinners. He gives them new birth, new desire and ability to freely, willingly, and voluntarily choose Him. So, the Bible always gives God the credit for salvation. Humans are never credited with having achieved salvation.
Praise Him that He’s chosen to save some because of His undeserved grace. He could have justly chosen to save none. That’s what He did for the fallen angels. They have no plan of salvation, no opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved. They don’t deserve it, and neither do we!
He could have justly left Adam and Eve and all the rest of us to perish in hell. He didn’t have to design a plan of salvation. He doesn’t owe salvation to anyone. He freely chose to redeem a people for Himself, to the praise of His glorious grace.
So, who made the difference in your conversion: The evangelist, you, or God? Who gets the credit and glory for your decision for Christ: The evangelist, you, or God? God made the difference, didn’t He. Yes, God gets all the credit and all the glory for saving us, doesn’t He?
Dear saint, if He has given you the gifts of new life, repentance, and faith, then won’t you humbly bow down low right now, to thank Him, and worship Him!
So now, who made the difference in your salvation?
1. If the evangelist makes the difference in conversion:
Then, if you’re an imperfect evangelist, there’s little hope God can use you. For, if sinners’ response depends on the evangelist’s clarity and persuasiveness, then we should despair of their conversion. Even the most persuasive, logical, clear gospel presentations are often rejected. It can be very frustrating to faithfully give out the gospel only to see it rejected time after time.
2. If the hearer makes the difference in conversion:
Then, if you’re witnessing to an extremely hard-hearted sinner, there’s little hope God can save them. For, if unbelievers’ response depends on their interest, intelligence, morality, desire or ability, then we should despair of their conversion.
Sinners’ hearts are so hardened by sin that most show no interest in the true Christ. Often, their hearts are hardened by false religion, pride, greed, sexual immorality, or some other secret sin. Some even go so far as to publicly criticize the gospel and resist Him.
Unbelievers reject Christ not just because they’re not persuaded the gospel is true. If they do try to claim skepticism, it’s often only an excuse to justify their sin. They reject Christ because they love sin and hate Him. (Plus, if unbelievers make the difference in their own conversion, then what if their faith is imperfect?)
3. If God makes the difference in conversion:
Then yes, there’s hope He can use even imperfect evangelists, like you. And yes, there’s hope for even the worst of sinners. God by His power can change even hardened occultists like King Manasseh. He can change even persecutors like Saul. If God makes the difference, then we can evangelize with confidence in His power to change sinners.
Witness with Confidence in God’s Power to Save Sinners
So, we can witness with confidence in God’s power to change sinners because He makes the difference – no matter how hard-hearted the hearers are, and no matter how skilled an evangelist you are. Now do you understand Calvinism, Arminianism, so what?
Now, go and take the good news of Christ crucified and raised, to all nations. Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. Surely He will be with you always, to the end of the age.
How Does Your View of Who Makes the
Difference in Conversion Affect Your Life?
What you believe about who makes the difference in conversion affects how you’ll evangelize. And, it will also affect your…
Do you ever struggle with the temptation of pride, looking down on sinners, lacking compassion for them? Do you ever feel like you’re better than them, because you were more moral or smarter than them to choose Christ?
Have you lost that fresh sense of thanksgiving to God for His miracle of saving you?
How long has it been since your heart was filled with reverence, wonder, and love to God for including you in “so great a salvation?”
It is very odd how difficult it seems for some persons to understand just what Calvinism is. And yet the matter itself presents no difficulty whatever. It is capable of being put into a single sentence; and that, on level to every religious man’s comprehension. For Calvinism is just religion in its purity. We have only, therefore, to conceive of religion in its purity, and that is Calvinism.
In what attitude of mind and heart does religion come most fully to its rights? Is it not in the attitude of prayer? When we kneel before God, not with the body merely, but with the mind and heart, we have assumed the attitude which above all others deserves the name of religious. And this religious attitude by way of eminence is obviously just the attitude of utter dependence and humble trust. He who comes to God in prayer, comes not in a spirit of self-assertion, but in a spirit of trustful dependence.
No one ever addressed God in prayer thus:
“O God, thou knowest that I am the architect of my own fortunes and the determiner of my own destiny. Thou mayest indeed do something to help me in the securing of my purposes after I have determined upon them. But my heart is my own, and thou canst not intrude into it; my will is my own, and thou canst not bend it. When I wish thy aid, I will call on thee for it. Meanwhile, thou must await my pleasure.”
Men may reason somewhat like this; but that is not the way they pray.
There did, indeed, once two men go up into the temple to pray. And one stood and prayed thus to himself (can it be that this “to himself” has a deeper significance than appears on the surface?), “God, I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men.” While the other smote his breast, and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Even the former acknowledged a certain dependence on God; for he thanked God for his virtues. But we are not left in doubt in which one the religious mood was most purely exhibited. There is One who has told us that with clearness and emphasis.
The Calvinist is the man who is determined that his intellect, and heart, and will shall remain on their knees continually, and only from this attitude think, and feel, and act. Calvinism is, therefore, that type of thought in which there comes to its rights the truly religious attitude of utter dependence on God and humble trust in his mercy alone for salvation.
There are at bottom but two types of religious thought in the world — if we may improperly use the term “religious” for both of them. There is the religion of faith; there is the “religion” of works. Calvinism is the pure embodiment of the former of these; what is known in Church History as Pelagianism is the pure embodiment of the latter of them. All other forms of “religious” teaching which have been known in Christendom are but unstable attempts at compromise between the two.
At the opening of the fifth century, the two fundamental types came into direct conflict in remarkably pure form as embodied in the two persons of Augustine and Pelagius. Both were expending themselves in seeking to better the lives of men. But Pelagius in his exhortations threw men back on themselves; they were able, he declared, to do all that God demanded of them — otherwise God would not have demanded it.
Augustine on the contrary pointed them in their weakness to God; “He himself,” he said, in his pregnant speech, “He himself is our power.” The one is the “religion” of proud self-dependence; the other is the religion of dependence on God. The one is the “religion” of works; the other is the religion of faith. The one is not “religion” at all — it is mere moralism; the other is all that is in the world that deserves to be called religion. Just in proportion as this attitude of faith is present in our thought, feeling, life, are we religious. When it becomes regnanti in our thought, feeling, life, then are we truly religious.
Calvinism is that type of thinking in which it has become regnant. This is why those who have caught a glimpse of these things, love with passion what men call “Calvinism,” sometimes with an air of contempt; and why they cling to it with enthusiasm. It is not merely the hope of true religion in the world: it is true religion in the world — as far as true religion is in the world at all.
For Calvinism, in this soteriological aspect of it, is just the perception and expression and defence of the utter dependence of the soul on the free grace of God for salvation. All its so-called hard features—its doctrine of original sin, yes, speak it right out, its doctrine of total depravity and the entire inability of the sinful will to good; its doctrine of election, or, to put it in the words everywhere spoken against, its doctrine of predestination and preterition, of reprobation itself—mean just this and nothing more.
Calvinism will not play fast and loose with the free grace of God. It is set upon giving to God, and to God alone, the glory and all the glory of salvation. There are others than Calvinists, no doubt, who would fain make the same great confession. But they make it with reserves, or they painfully justify the making of it by some tenuous theory which confuses nature and grace. They leave logical pitfalls on this side or that, and the difference between logical pitfalls and other pitfalls is that the wayfarer may fall into the others, but the plain man, just because his is a simple mind, must fall into those.
Calvinism will leave no logical pitfalls and will make no reserves. It will have nothing to do with theories whose function it is to explain away facts. It confesses, with a heart full of adoring gratitude, that to God, and to God alone, belongs salvation and the whole of salvation; that He it is, and He alone, who works salvation in its whole reach. Any falling away in the slightest measure from this great confession is to fall away from Calvinism. Any intrusion of any human merit, or act, or disposition, or power, as ground or cause or occasion, into the process of divine salvation,—whether in the way of power to resist or of ability to improve grace, of the opening of the soul to the reception of grace, or of the employment of grace already received—is a breach with Calvinism.
Is it strange that in this world, in this particular age of this world, it should prove difficult to preserve not only active, but vivid and dominant, the perception of the everywhere determining hand of God, the sense of absolute dependence on Him, the conviction of utter inability to do even the least thing to rescue ourselves from sin—at the height of their conceptions?
Is it not enough to account for whatever depression Calvinism may be suffering in the world today, to point to the natural difficulty—in this materialistic age, conscious of its newly realized powers over against the forces of nature and filled with the pride of achievement and of material well-being—of guarding our perception of the governing hand of God in all things, in its perfection; of maintaining our sense of dependence on a higher power in full force; of preserving our feeling of sin, unworthiness, and helplessness in its profundity?
Is not the depression of Calvinism, so far as it is real, significant merely of this, that to our age the vision of God has become somewhat obscured in the midst of abounding material triumphs, that the religious emotion has in some measure ceased to be the determining force in life, and that the evangelical attitude of complete dependence on God for salvation does not readily commend itself to men who are accustomed to lay forceful hands on everything else they wish, and who do not quite see why they may not take heaven also by storm?
Let us observe then, that Calvinism is only another name for consistent supernaturalism in religion. The central fact of Calvinism is the vision of God. Its determining principle is zeal for the divine honour. What it sets itself to do is to render to God His rights in every sphere of life-activity. In this it begins, and centres, and ends. It is this that is said, when it is said that it is Theism come to its rights, since in that case everything that comes to pass is viewed as the direct outworking of the divine purpose—when it is said that it is religion at the height of its conception, since in that case God is consciously felt as Him in whom we live and move and have our being—when it is said that it is evangelicalism in its purity, since in that case we cast ourselves as sinners, without reserve, wholly on the mercy of the divine grace.
It is this sense of God, of God’s presence, of God’s power, of God’s all-pervading activity—most of all in the process of salvation—which constitutes Calvinism.
When the Calvinist gazes into the mirror of the world, whether the world of nature or the, world of events, his attention is held not by the mirror itself (with the cunning construction of which scientific investigations may no doubt very properly busy themselves), but by the Face of God which he sees reflected therein.
When the Calvinist contemplates the religious life, he is less concerned with the psychological nature and relations of the emotions which surge through the soul (with which the votaries of the new science of the psychology of religion are perhaps not quite unfruitfully engaging themselves), than with the divine Source from which they spring, the divine Object on which they take hold.
When the Calvinist considers the state of his soul and the possibility of its rescue from death and sin, he may not indeed be blind to the responses which it may by the grace of God be enabled to make to the divine grace, but he absorbs himself not in them but in it, and sees in every step of his recovery to good and to God the almighty working of God’s grace.
The Calvinist, in a word, is the man who sees God.
He has caught sight of the ineffable Vision, and he will not let it fade for a moment from his eyes—God in nature, God in history, God in grace.
Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart.
The Calvinist is therefore, by way of eminence, the supernaturalist in the world of thought. The world itself is to him a supernatural product; not merely in the sense that somewhere, away back before all time, God made it, but that God is making it now, and in every event that falls out. In every modification of what is, that takes place, His hand is visible, as through all occurrences His “one increasing purpose runs”.
Man himself is His— created for His glory, and having as the one supreme end of his existence to glorify his Maker, and haply also to enjoy Him for ever.
And salvation, in every step and stage of it, is of God. Conceived in God’s love, wrought out by God’s own Son in a supernatural life and death in this world of sin, and applied by God’s Spirit in a series of acts as supernatural as the virgin birth and the resurrection of the Son of God themselves—it is a supernatural work through and through.
To the Calvinist, thus, the Church of God is as direct a creation of God as the first creation itself. In this supernaturalism, the whole thought and feeling and life of the Calvinist is steeped. Without it there can be no Calvinism, for it is just this that is Calvinism.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
I know that definition of terms are generally very boring, but for the sake of clarity and understanding, it is necessary that the terms Arminianism and Humanism be defined at the outset of this discourse. The distinction between the two terms is in the far greater part superficial, and even more so when considered in the light of true religion. The term Humanism defined by Webster: “A doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially a philosophy that assures the dignity and worth of man and his capacity for self realization through reason and often that rejects supernaturalism.” This definition, as will be shown in the following consideration of the term is diametric or the very opposite of biblical anthropology.
Arminianism defined: It is a religious system centered in man. According to Arminianism, it is man that makes the decrees of God effectual. It consists of five (5) articles, i.e., 1. Conditional election. 2. Universal atonement; (That is, Christ in His sacrificial death made atonement for all of mankind). 3. Regeneration brings good works. 4. Divine grace is resistible. 5. Believers may finally fall from grace and be eternally lost.
These definitions are concise, and do not penetrate very deeply into the intense darkness of these man exalting and God debasing “isms”, but we will enlarge upon them as we progress in the message. The main or central feature of Arminianism and Humanism is the idea that man is superior to God, and that man can, in and of himself, solve all of his problems without any supernatural help. An early perpetrator of Arminianism and Humanism is third century Pelagianism, which exalted the human will above that of the God of the Bible.
Knowing the Holy Spirit inspired word of God (II Tim. 3:16) is sufficient for reproof and correction of every sophism of man, it will be the exclusive criteria I shall use in refuting the preposterous frauds referred to in the heading of this message.
Firstly, let us consider the HUMANISM OF ARMINIANISM in the light of Scripture revelation concerning the absolute sovereignty of God. To say that God is sovereign is to own and proclaim that He is Almighty, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and that “He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Ps. 115:3). It is the inescapable obligation of the Adamic family to recognize the sovereignty of God, and to ascribe perfect praise unto Him. (Ps. 46:10; I Pet. 2:9). The God of the Bible has emphatically declared: “I am the first and the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6). Every other god (?) is conjured up by vain imagination, the figment of which is the very ground of both Humanism and Arminianism. The fatal aspect of these two nefarious “isms” is not that they do not have a god, but that their god is such an one as their inventors. (Ps. 50:21).
Humanism and Arminianism have a singular goal, and that is to dethrone God, and enthrone man. In both systems the sovereignty and authority of God over man is abrogated; man becomes the sovereign and God the suppliant; and man is the exclusive determiner of his eternal destiny. The doctrine of the sovereignty of God is so hateful to Humanism and Arminianism, they have mustered all the resources of carnal sagacity in an effort to find deficiency in the God of the Bible. The Apostles of the Lord have warned His churches, saying: “. . . There should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lust . . . having not the Spirit” (Jude 18, 19). These vain mockers are shut up to degenerate wisdom, and being bound by their finite intellect, cannot conceive of God as being any more than themselves, and say in their hearts: “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). The term, “this man,” is a reference to Christ.
“Humanism holds that human beings shape their own destiny” (Secular Humanism, by Homer Duncan). The person who is able to decree his or her own destiny is, and must be a god. So it is, Humanism is not a religion without a god, but every person according to its premise is a god in and of themselves. The inevitable result of this satanic concept is self worship, and the worst form of idolatry, is autolatry, or full of devotion to self. It was this very ideology that tripped up Lucifer (Isa. 14:13).
Arminianism, like Humanism is a religion without the God of the Bible, but it is not god-less, for this creature exalting system contends that man is the exclusive determiner of his own destiny. Therefore, like Humanism, every man is in and of himself a god. Oliver B. Green, recently deceased, but while as yet living was one of the most fervent advocates of Arminianism. Speaking of the sovereignty of God, predestination, election, and irresistible grace, said: “They are some of the rankest and some of the vilest doctrines I have ever heard.” (Predestination, Pg. 1). The doctrines referred to by Mr. Green in the immediate quote are obnoxious to the supremacist intellect of the natural man, for the carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). However, the substitutionary death of Christ has atoned for the hereditary hatred of His elect people (Eph. 2:16), and they will in due season cry out from their inmost and redeemed soul: “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6).
There is not merely a correlation between Arminianism and Humanism, but when both systems are carefully examined, it will be readily seen they have the same choreographer, and dance to the flesh pleasing music of creature invincibility, and that without missing a step. Arminianism and Humanism contend that man is an autonomous entity, and that God’s decrees may be negated by the vaunted will of man. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. (2 Tim. 3:5).
“This know also. that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1). The climax of this present evil age is imminent, perilous times have come, the foundation of the ecumenical church is laid, and the superstructure is going up at an accelerated pace. The false prophet and the Anti-Christ are waiting in the wings, and will in the near future step onto the world stage. The so-called Christian Church is utterly permeated with Arminianism, and the political and educational world is overrun with secular Humanism. Pseudo Christianity and Humanism will soon merge, for it is not difficult for two systems to merge when they are so much alike and their goals and ends are the same—and that is the glorification of man.
But the struggling saint should not despair for no man, be he the personal anti-Christ is able to pluck God’s elect from His all sovereign hand (John 10:27-29). The rantings and ravings of Arminianism and Humanism is nothing more that the rattling of their chains of degradation and death with which they are sovereignly bound. Arminianism says: “Sinners go to hell because God Almighty Himself could not save them! He did all He could. He failed” (Noel Smith, Defender Magazine). But the Bible doesn’t agree with Noel Smith, for that infallible Book says, speaking of God: “What His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job. 23:13). Humanism says: “No Deity shall save us, we must save ourselves” (The Humanist Manifesto). The Scripture says that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16), and that “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Paul says, speaking of Christ: “According to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). If man’s destiny is left to Arminianism or Humanism, God will be defeated and heaven deserted. But perish the thought, for the Sovereign and infallible Architect of the universe says: “He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will . . . And as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Eph. 1:11; Isa. 14:24).
Humanism does not recognize the God of the Bible as an authority in any matter, and Arminianism disavows the authority of God in all things. If God is not sovereign in all things, then He is not sovereign in any thing, for that which He is not sovereign over, is the sovereign of all things, including God. However, God denounces His would-be detractors, asking: “Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20). The creature has NO right to question his Creator, for God’s supreme and all pervading providence redounds to His own glory, and the eternal good of His people (Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 1:31).
Arminianism is nothing more than Humanism with a religious veneer, the combination of which is the ultimate subterfuge of the devil. Both systems are an eternal offense unto God, and it would be far better to have never been born, than to live and die trusting these God scandalizing errors for salvation from sin. So, let us not limit the Holy One of Israel. (Ps. 78:41), for His omnipotence is absolute, and no satanic ruse can in any wise hinder or disturb Him.
Secondly, let us consider the HUMANISM OF ARMINIANISM in the light of the Bible doctrine of the total depravity of man. The Psalmist says: “. . . Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). This text refers to man as he is in his Adamic nature, and it plainly says that Adam and all of his posterity are in their fallen nature, totally depraved. The text allows for no exceptions, and allows for no partial depravity. Every man was utterly and spiritually ruined in Adam, for when Adam rebelled against God (Gen. 3:6), his action was not representatively singular, for he was at the time the federal head of the family of man, and in his defiance of God, his posterity became utterly defiled, for they acted in Adam (1 Cor. 15:21,22).
Arminianism takes exception to the doctrine of total depravity of fallen nature, and says: “Man is not a sinner at birth, but at birth man becomes a potential sinner” (John R. Rice, as quoted by John Zens, from The Sword), Religious Humanism calls the Bible account of the fall of Adam a fable, and Arminianism has put a little sugar on their position, so as to satisfy the religious curiosity of the natural man. However, if a man takes arsenic coated with sugar, it will kill him as readily as the plain or uncoated. Damnable doctrine is just that, no matter what flavor it comes in. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
Humanism teaches that man as he is in nature is a moral giant and of infinite worth. Arminianism teaches the same thing, saying: “God valued man so highly that He sent His Son to redeem the whole family of man.” Conversely, the Scripture says: “They have all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12). The word, “unprofitable,” as used in this Scripture does not simply mean, no profit, but that man in the Edenic transgression suffered an irreparable deficit; and this loss has left man without God or hope.
Christ, in explicit and emphatic words said: “The flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). But no matter how well defined the words of Christ may be, they have never made a favorable impression on Arminianism, and this pseudo system says: “God needs us, for we are the only feet, hands, and mouth God has.” Poor handicapped God. But their god is not the God of the Bible, for He “taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man . . . and as he has purposed, so shall it stand . . . for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Ps. 147:10; Isa. 14:24; Phil. 2:13).
The advocates of Arminianism and Humanism rebuke all who proclaim the immutable sovereignty of God over His universe, and all that is therein. They voice their objection, saying: “Your position on depravity dehumanizes man, and makes him as bad as the beast of the field.” This objection is not even near the truth of what sovereign grace believers contend for. Our position is based squarely on Scripture, therefore we do not dehumanize man, but emphasize the fact he is man, and as man he has no God-likeness. Fallen and unredeemed man is the antithesis of God, for he is ungodly, and is an unrelenting enemy of God (Rom. 4:5; 5:10).
The fallacious charge that we make man as bad as the beast of the field misses the mark by an infinite distance. To say that fallen man is as the beast of the field is to insult the lower animal kingdom, and to pay man a highly undue compliment. For, we ask, What beast of the field is it that ever had an evil thought about God? Conversely, where and who is the man in his native state that ever had a good thought about God? “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart are only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To the natural man, God saith. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Ps. 50:21). This is the ultimate of evil thought, and manifests the utter and awful depravity of the human mind, and its fearful disregard for the unimpeachable holiness of God.
“But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 10; See also Eccl. 3:18). This Scripture declares, while man is supposed to be a rational creature by nature, he has corrupted the moral principles of humanity, and has stooped lower than the irrational beasts of the field. Simply, sin has corrupted every fiber and faculty of man’s nature, so much so, he can neither know or obey God.
I ask in all seriousness, are we not in civilized and educational America living according to or below the code of the jungle? To answer this question in the negative is to deny nearly every newspaper headline that is printed in the USA, Humanism and Arminianism contend that the only thing wrong with man is: he needs a little more education. The unfavorable query is: Where is it that man can get this cure-all education? If we send our children to public school, they are inundated with humanism. If the family attends an Arminian church, it is deluged with the pernicious doctrine of self salvation. Christ rebuked some of the first century works mongers, saying: “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15). As it was then, so is it now. But as there was hope then, so it is now. There is a contemporaneous ray of light shining through the immense darkness of Arminianism and Humanism.
Hence, we go to the Holy Spirit inspired word of God, and when we do, we find that the “manifold wisdom of God” is to be known through His church, and “That unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:10, 21). If a person’s membership is in a church that teaches the carnal man at any time commend himself to the saving favor of God, he is in a false church no matter the name it may go by, or the “isms” it may teach and practice. The Scripture says, speaking of regeneration: “. . . It is not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Christ said to His disciples: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you . . .” (John 15:16). The Apostle Paul makes it known beyond contradiction that God’s choice of His people antedated time and creation, and that according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:4-9). So it is, God in His great love for His people who are caught in the satanic snares of Arminianism and/or Humanism, admonishes them, saying: “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17).
Thirdly, we will further consider the Humanism of Arminianism and its theory that fallen man’s will is the determinative factor in his present and future well-being.
Humanism and Arminianism teaches that one of man’s most destructive flaws is to mistrust himself. In countering this fallacious elevation of the native intellect of man, Paul says: “We rejoice in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). Christ, speaking of regeneration, declares: “it is not of the flesh, nor of !he will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Salvation of the soul is not the result of a cooperative effort of God and man, but God is the Sovereign and solitary author of the salvation of His people (Heb. 12:2). Esau, Isaac’s first born son, trusted in himself, and while running in the energy of the flesh, he lost the blessing (Gen. 27), and reflecting on Esau’s diligent effort to earn the promised blessing, Paul said: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).
Humanists claim that academic learning is the panacea for all of man’s ills and difficulties. It is this sort Paul has in mind when he says, they are:
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). The more they learn the more acute becomes their ignorance of God, and despite for His word. The humanist contends that the Bible is a myth, a fabrication of unlearned and ignorant men. Thus it is, he allows no place for the Bible in his acumen. His learning has given sophistication to his atheism, but he will one day learn that his denial of the God of the Bible has infinitely aggravated his reprobation (Rom. 2:5). “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Cor. 3:19).
Humanists puffed up on their academic attainments have concluded that their postulates are axiomatic, and that their wisdom is so absolute it allows for no “ifs” or “perhaps”. Their dogmatism is that of a fool, for they have said in their hearts, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1), and they know nothing yet as they ought to know it (1 Cor. 8:2). The born again person does not deny the contention of the Humanists that an education in the arts and sciences taught by the elite institutions of men enhances success. The Lord’s churches have a high regard and respect for success, but what they know and proclaim is: any success that does not own God as its Author is of the flesh and the flesh profiteth nothing. Simply, aside from God there is NO genuine success.
Arminianism says: “Man has the intellectual power to choose eternal life or death, and that every man is given ample space to make up his mind in this vital matter”. But Christ says, speaking of the natural man: “Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life” (John 5:40). Speaking of the utter impotence of man’s natural will, Christ says: “No man can come to me . . .” (John 6:44). Paul, in his accentuation of this truth, says: “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7,8). The natural man is “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
Arminianism’s declaration of the absolute independence of man’s will is tantamount to saying, the fruit of a tree has a nature of its own, which is altogether free of the root of the tree. The fruit of a tree is invariably determined by the character of its root. Genealogically, Adam is the root of mankind, and when Adam committed spiritual suicide (Gen. 3:6), his progeny died in him. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
“A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:18). All the moral fruit which the natural man brings forth, be they ever so laudatory or praiseworthy by the standards of men, are, when weighed in the scales of omniscience, seen to be worm infested. Thus it is, the rationalist is left without a valid recourse, for the law of reaping and sowing applies not only to agrarian science, but to all earthly organisms. Christ said: “The tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Note: in this text, Christ personified the “tree,” and in so doing, leaves NO room for the hypocrite. The flesh, be it ever so religious, profiteth nothing (John 6:63). Job, speaking of human reproduction, asks: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” And Job, with awesome finality, answers his own question, saying: “Not one” (Job 14:4).
Humanism and Arminianism contend that the will of man is free and independent of God, and it is of such power that it can frustrate and nullify the will of God. Therefore, this premise teaches that the ultimate in all things is left to the reasoning power and will of man. So, it inevitably follows, their faith is in man, and that man in the final analysis is the measure of all things. Over and against this felonious contention of Arminianism and Humanism, the all wise and merciful God has issued the following admonition; “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding … He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Pro. 3:5, 28).
Nowhere in the Bible is it said the man who has lost his natural mentality is a fool. Notwithstanding, the worldly wise oft refer to the dedicated Christian as being mentally deranged (Acts 26:24), but oft times the Bible refers to the worldly wise as fools, and likens their dialogue as being inferior to the chatter (prattle) of children (Pro. 10:8). The rich farmer (Luke 12) ingeniously devised a scheme whereby he would have plenty with pleasure for many years to come, but not once in all of his planning and purpose was God ever thought of, and this lack of consideration for the Author of all life was his fatal and eternal mistake which proved him to be a “fool.” A rich “fool” is no better off than a poor fool, for both have said in their heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Humanism’s so-called “good life” is temporal at the longest, and superficial at its best, and is all too often the “wide gate that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). The Apostle Paul, leaving no room for ambiguity, asks: “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:20).
Arminianism is the choice gem of religious ignorance, and Humanism is the idolized brainchild of intellectualism. The two “isms” in their combined strength, are nothing more than tinkling cymbals and sounding brass. The God of the Bible is the Author of all true science, and there has never been a conflict between the Scriptures and true science. But when “science, falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20) is weighed on the scales of God’s infallible word, it is rejected in tote, and labeled “wood, hay, and stubble” (1 Cor. 3:12). But worse than false science is the deification of true science by the Humanists, for it is by this artifice Satan has made allies of a great host of academics, who are fearfully worse off for all of their learning, and will be found of an unsound mind before the omniscient God in the day when all accounts are settled.
The Humanists say, without the least compunction: “Science alone can resolve for man the eternal problems for which his very being urgently demands a solution” (Wilhelm Dilthey, The Nineteenth Century, page 16). The Hippocratic oath does not make a physician; wedding vows do not make a marriage; a confession of faith does not make a Christian; nor can humanistic science, be it ever so perfect, redeem, or help to redeem one soul. The Holy One of Israel has, with Sovereign exclusivity, said: “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no Saviour” (Isa. 43:11).
Fourthly, Arminianism and Humanism are the inventions of men. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29). The word, “inventions” in this text is not a reference to man’s scientific discoveries or devices which he has invented to help alleviate the hardship of his journey back to dust from whence he came, but it is a reference to religious inventions, for the inventions referred to in the text are contrary to the original uprightness of man. Every religious heresy is of the Devil, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44), and Arminianism and Humanism are his prize deceits. The word “and” used in the foregoing sentence is not used merely as a conjunctive, but to show the parity of the twin evils.
The ill supposition that the will of man is utterly free, and independent of God is the foundational doctrine upon which Arminianism and Humanism stands. These God debasing systems are as ancient as Lucifer’s first “I will” (Isa. 14:13, 14), and will not reach their terminus until the Devil, the originator of these fatal deceptions is cast into the everlasting lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). The foundation upon which Arminianism and Humanism stands is not merely defective, but is utterly faulty, and all who are deceived thereby are not wise, but foolish (Rom. 1:21,22). But the would-be detractors object, saying: “You put man in an intellectual straight jacket; rob him of his image of God; and nullify his will”. It is not our contention that man’s will is impotent, but that it is circumscribed by his nature. It is an obvious absurdity to claim that man can will or desire something that is contrary to his own nature. The natural man’s will is in bondage to sin, and never varies in its servitude (Rom. 6:20). Man by nature is free to choose whatever pleases him, but he cannot prefer that which is the very opposite of his essence and being.
The carnal desire is limited to that which pleases the flesh, and they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8). Man’s natural liberty is exceeding great, but every exercise of that liberty is utterly sensuous, and is antagonistic to the nature of the thrice holy God (Isa. 6:3). So then, man’s natural will is not only destitute of all spiritual value, but in his every utterance and action he aggravates the condemnation under which all men are born (John 3:18). All men all the time are by their Adamic nature haters of God (Ps. 81:15; John 15:18,25; Rom. 1:30; etc.). God does not force His people to come to Him contrary to their will and nature, but God in sovereign love and mercy gives His people a new nature, and all the Father gave the Son in the unconditional covenant of election will joyfully come to Him, and that by the power of God (Ps. 110:3; Jer. 31:3; John 6:37, 44).
The natural man is free to love God, but he has neither the power, nor the desire to even be near God, much less love Him, for he is innately a hater of God. Paul, speaking of the natural man, says: “He is filled with all unrighteousness, maliciousness, full of envy . . . backbiters, haters of God, inventors of evil things . . .” (Rom. 1:29,30). The Ethiopian is free to change his spots for the stripes of a tiger, but owing to creature inability, these changes are an impossibility. So it is with the natural man. He is free to put off his custom of doing evil, but he never has the least desire to do so. (Jer. 13:23), for he has beyond a single doubt concluded that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of myths, and that Christianity is the opiate of the people. These soul damning conclusions are intertwined with fallen man’s nature, and can only be severed by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).
Fallen man, be he rich or poor, strong or weak, learned or unlearned, is an egotist. Mr. Webster has defined egoism saying: “it is an ethical doctrine that individual self interest is the valid end of all action.” So it is, the vocabulary of fallen man consists mainly of the words, “Me, mine, my, and I”. But the Bible says: “He that thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Gal. 6:3). The Apostle Paul for the most of his life was an egotist, self-willed, and self-congratulatory. He persecuted the disciples of Christ, both men and women, and he says he was “exceedingly mad against them” (Acts 22:4; 26:11). Paul, being blinded by pride, did not know that God had set aside his beloved religion, and with intense fervor he went forth to destroy every person that named the name of Christ, but while enroute on one of his persecuting missions, he was confronted with a great light from heaven, and an ego deflating voice, upon the sound of which, he fell to the ground from which he arose one of the most selfless and greatest of men that ever lived (Acts 22:6-10). However, he knew that in and of himself, he was a wretched man before God (Rom. 7:24), and knowing this, he said: “I am less that the least of all saints . . .” (Eph. 3:8).
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). Let us not confuse Arminianism and Humanism with humanitarianism. Every person should be a humanitarian in the sense of helping the downtrodden, and should seize every opportunity to be the good Samaritan, Christ was the greatest humanitarian, but He was not a Humanist, nor did He teach that salvation of the soul was left to the prerogative of fallen man’s will. Let us follow our Supreme Example, and go “about doing good,” but at the same time, highlight the sham and shame of Humanism, and the hypocrisy of Arminianism. True Christianity, and New Testament Baptists in particular, are faced with a sinister, subtile, and soul destructive hoax. We are confronted from every quarter with socio-religion, which is an amalgamation of Arminianism and Humanism, and in this God debasing union the Lord’s churches are faced with a double dose of damnable doctrine. As dismal as the state of things may seem, there is no room for complacency in the Lord’s churches. On the contrary, it is their duty to sound the trumpet of truth, and do all they can to hinder this accelerated and anti-Christ encroachment upon the word of God and His blood bought churches.
The ultimate ambition of the contemporary deluge of Humanism and Arminianism is to prevail against and destroy the Lord’s churches, but as it was with our pre-reformation forebears who stood undaunted against the fire, noose, sword and other excruciating deaths of the harlot system of Rome, will be found defying this plague of spiritual cancer until their merciful and omnipotent Lord speaks to them from heaven, saying: “Come up hither.”
When Christ sent His church unto all nations, He commissioned it to preach the gospel of grace. He knew that is was the satanically inspired and brutal hands of Romish Humanism and pharisaic Judaism that nailed Him to the cross. As it was then, so is it now, Humanism and Arminianism are mortal enemies of the gospel of Christ, and one must perish where the other prevails. So as to erase all doubt concerning the perpetuity and permanency of His blood bought church, Christ issued a hell defying fiat, wherein He said: ” . . . I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Any church that does not own the absolute authority of God over man is humanistic, no matter what name it may go by, and is under the anathema of God (Rev. 18:4-6). So it behooves every person who names the name of Christ to find a church that preaches the whole counsel of God, wherein is NO room for Arminianism or Humanism.
There is a lot of common ground between Arminianism and Humanism, for it is no problem for darkness to commune with darkness, but there is NO communion between light and darkness; there is NO fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness; and there is NO concord between Christ and the Devil (2 Cor. 6:14-16). A
The Bible warns us that in the last days in which we live there will be many false Christs-those who claim to be Christ but who are imposters. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4-5). We who profess to be Christians must take heed. We must be very careful that we are not deceived. Our calling is to trust, love, and follow the true Christ and Him only. We may have nothing to do with the false Christs who are so numerous in our day.
We know about the Christ of the cults and other religions. He is a good man, a prophet, the first creation of God, a great spirit, a divine idea, or even a god himself. But he is not true and eternal God. He receives his existence from another who is greater than he. He is not the Christ of the Bible. We are not deceived by this Christ. He is a false Christ.
We know about the Christ of Roman Catholicism. They profess that He is true God. He suffered and died for the forgiveness of sin. He arose again, ascended into heaven, and is coming again. But he is not a complete Savior. The Christ of the Roman Catholics can not save sinners without their own good works and the intercession of priests. He is not the Christ of the Bible. We are not deceived by this Christ. He is a false Christ.
There is, however, another false Christ who is much more dangerous than the Christ of the cults and the Christ of Roman Catholicism. He has deceived people for many years and he continues to deceive millions. This Christ is so dangerous that, if it were not impossible, he would deceive the very elect (Matt. 24:24). He is the Christ of Arminianism.
This false Christ is extremely dangerous because in many ways he appears to be the True Christ. They say that he is true God, equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They say that he died on the cross to save sinners. They even say that he saves by his grace alone, without the work of man. This Christ will have nothing to do with the Christ of the cults and the Christ of Roman Catholicism.
But watch out! Be warned! The Christ of Arminianism is notthe Christ of the Bible. Do not be fooled!
1) The Christ of Arminianism – loves every individual person in the world and sincerely desires their salvation.
The Christ of the Bible – earnestly loves and desires the salvation of only those whom God has unconditionally chosen to salvation.
2) The Christ of Arminianism – offers salvation to every sinner and does all in his power to bring them to salvation. His offer and work are often frustrated, for many refuse to come.
The Christ of the Bible – effectually calls to Himself only the elect and sovereignly brings them to salvation. Not one of them will be lost. (Isa. 55:11, John 5:21, John 6:37-40, John 10:25-30, John 17:2, Phil. 2:13).
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.
John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [them]; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
John6:37 – 40 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
3) The Christ of Arminianism – can not regenerate and save a sinner who does not first choose Christ with his own “free will.” All men have a “free will” by which they can either accept or reject Christ. That “free will” may not be violated by Christ.
The Christ of the Bible – sovereignly regenerates the elect sinner apart from his choice, for without regeneration the spiritually dead sinner can not choose Christ. Faith is not man’s contribution to salvation but the gift of Christ which He sovereignly imparts in regeneration. (John 3:3, John 6:44 & 65, John 15:16, Acts 11:18, Rom. 9:16, Eph. 2:1, Eph. 2:8-10, Phil. 1:29, Hebr. 12:2).
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 6:44, 65 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day…And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Romans 9:16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
4) The Christ of Arminianism – died on the cross for every individual person and thereby made it possible for every person to be saved. His death, apart from the choice of man, was not able to actually save anyone for many for whom he died are lost.
The Christ of the Bible – died for only God’s elect people and thereby actually obtained salvation for all those for whom He died. His death was a substitutionary satisfaction which actually took away the guilt of His chosen people. (Luke 19:10, John 10:14-15 & 26, Acts 20:28, Rom. 5:10, Eph. 5:25, Hebr. 9:12, I Peter 3:18).
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
John 10:14, 15, 26 I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep…But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
5) The Christ of Arminianism – loses many whom he has “saved” because they do not continue in faith. Even if he does give them “eternal security,” as some say, that security is not based upon his will or work but the choice which the sinner made when he accepted Christ.
The Christ of the Bible – preserves His chosen people so that they can not lose their salvation but persevere in the faith to the very end. He preserves them by the sovereign electing will of God, the power of His death, and the mighty working of His Spirit. (John 5:24, John 10:26-29, Rom. 8:29-30, Rom. 8:35-39, I Peter 1:2-5, Jude 24-25).
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 10:26-29 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.
Romans 8:29 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. 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.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Peter 1:2-5 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Jude 24,25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
As you can see, although the Christ of Arminianism and the Christ of the Bible may at first seem to be the same, they are very different. One is a false Christ. The other is the true Christ. One is weak and helpless. He bows before the sovereign “free will” of man. The other is the reigning Lord Who wills what He pleases and sovereignly accomplishes all that He wills. (Ps. 5:5, Ps. 7:11, Ps. 11:5, Matt. 11:27, John 17:9-10, Acts 2:47, Acts 13:48, Rom. 9:10-13, Rom. 9:21-24, Eph. 1:3-4).
Psalms 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Psalms 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry [with the wicked] every day.
Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Matthew 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him].
John 17:9, 10 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed
Romans 9:10-13 And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;
(For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Romans 9:21-24 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Ephesians 1:3, 4 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: 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:
If you believe and serve the Christ of Arminianism, you must recognize the fact that you do not serve the Christ of the Bible. You have been deceived! Study the Scriptures and learn of the True Christ. Pray for grace to repent and trust Christ as your sovereign Saviour.
Rev. Steven Houck
Calvin bisa dianggap sebagai seorang pemimpin gereja yang ekumenikal. Namun, dalam kebanyakan studi tentang sikap ekumenikal Calvin, mau tidak mau kita merasakan adanya prasuposisi yang tidak semestinya, yang tidak berhubungan dengan situasi aktual abad keenam belas dan tujuh belas. Mungkin sulit diperlihatkan sampai sejauh mana sikap seseorang terhadap gerakan ekumenikal saat ini mempengaruhi kesimpulannya tentang ekumenisme para Reformator. Studi-studi ekumenikal merupakan subjek persoalan yang sensitif dan melibatkan loyalitas subjektif yang tidak selalu diakui secara terbuka.
Masalah subjektivitas ini merupakan problem metodologis dalam studi mengenai ekumenisme Calvin. Sebelum melakukan pendekatan secara objektif mengenai posisinya terhadap gereja Katolik Roma, pertama- tama kita harus menyadari prasuposisinya yang mendasar dan harus mengajukan pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang tepat. Menurut saya, dari perspektif para Reformator, terutama Calvin, pertanyaannya bukanlah apakah seharusnya ada reuni dengan gereja Roma, tetapi, dengan cara bagaimana gereja itu bisa direformasi ke dalam keadaannya yang lebih murni. Ia tidak ragu-ragu mengatakan bahwa gereja Roma telah kehilangan status privilesenya sebagai gereja sejati.
Richard Stauffer, menurut hemat saya, melakukan pendekatan yang tepat terhadap posisi Calvin berkenaan dengan gereja Roma. Ia mengatakan bahwa kita harus kembali ke latar belakang polemik-polemik abad ke-16 untuk memahami pemosisian Calvin tentang Reformasi berkaitan dengan gereja Roma. “Dalam pandangan Reformator Jenewa itu, sesungguhnya hal itu merupakan masalah pembedaan antara gereja yang sejati dan yang palsu.”.**1 Ia bersikeras bahwa hanya ada satu gereja yang katolik dan kudus dan bahwa para Reformator tidak sedang menciptakan gereja yang lain. Baginya, maksud dari Reformasi adalah untuk mereformasi gereja Roma, bukannya membentuk gereja yang lain. Ia mengakui bahwa jemaat-jemaat Protestan memang telah muncul sebagai akibat dari Reformasi, namun semuanya ini merupakan bagian atau ekspresi dari gereja katolik yang satu dan kudus, dan itu tidak dapat menghalangi seseorang dari persekutuan dengan orang-orang Kristen dari komunitas persekutuan lainnya. Dengan kata lain, bagi Calvin, denominasionalisme sebagaimana yang kita kenal sekarang merupakan sebuah anomali. Seharusnya ada partisipasi penuh dan pengakuan mutual serta penerimaan terhadap orang-orang Kristen dari jemaat manapun. Calvin bahkan akan mengingkari gagasan tentang “Calvinisme.” Dalam kesemuanya ini, baik pendiriannya terhadap gereja Roma maupun relasinya dengan gereja-gereja Protestan, ia memperlihatkan bahwa maksud dari Reformasi adalah untuk merestorasi gereja katolik yang satu dan kudus itu ke dalam keadaan yang lebih murni. Menurut saya, setiap studi tentang sikap ekumenisme Calvin seharusnya bertolak dari maksud Reformasi ini.
Para sarjana baru-baru ini cenderung terfokus pada pertanyaan tentang apakah Calvin melakukan separasi atau mengupayakan kesatuan dengan gereja Roma. Jean Cadier**2 dan Martin Klauber**3, misalnya, yakin bahwa posisi Calvin adalah separasi dengan gereja Roma. Menurut saya, “separasi” bukanlah kategori yang tepat karena mengandung ambiguitas tertentu di dalamnya. Sebagaimana akan kita lihat yang terlibat adalah soal-soal yang lebih dalam daripada separasi dan Calvin bersikeras bahwa para Reformator bukanlah skismatik. Cadier menyebut konferensi-konferensi dengan Katolik Roma di mana Calvin berpartisipasi dengan begitu aktif. Jika pendirian Calvin terhadap gereja Roma pada intinya adalah separasi, satu pertanyaan perlu diajukan, biar bagaimanapun mengapa ia mau berpartisipasi dalam pertemuan-pertemuan seperti itu? Di sisi lain, pengakuan iman fundamental yang dipresentasikan Klauber, dapat, dan seharusnya, dilihat dengan cara berbeda, bukan hanya “sebagai basis untuk usaha persatuan eklesiastikal di antara berbagai kubu Protestan,”**4 namun juga sebagai dasar untuk diskusi dengan orang-orang Katolik.
Ada sekelompok sarjana lain**5 yang lebih positif memandang relasi Calvin dengan gereja Roma, dan mereka percaya bahwa meski Calvin bersikap nonkompromis dalam keyakinan teologisnya, namun ia tetap mengharapkan kesatuan gereja-gereja, termasuk gereja Roma. John T. McNeil memberikan analisa historis yang baik mengenai usaha-usaha ekumenikal Calvin dan menyimpulkan bahwa ia tidak akan mengalah untuk apa yang ia anggap sebagai kebenaran hakiki, demi memperoleh kedamaian di antara gereja dan menegakkan kebersamaan di antara mereka. Namun McNeil juga setuju dengan kebanyakan sarjana Calvin bahwa ia akan menyambut dengan senang hati setiap kesempatan berunding guna membentuk relasi maksimum dengan setiap gereja, termasuk gereja Roma.**6 I. John Hesselink tiba pada kesimpulan serupa dengan McNeill, meskipun melalui pendekatan berbeda.
Menurut Robert M. Kingdon, posisi Calvin bersifat terbuka dan sikap ini bisa ia pakai sebagai pendekatan ekumenikal. Kingdon mengakui adanya kesepakatan antara Katolikisme Tridentine dan Protestantisme Ortodoks dan ini dapat dipelajari oleh semua orang yang berusaha memahami kepedulian Protestan yang dalam, agar semua doktrin Kristen terkokoh berdasar pada Alkitab.**7 Theodore W. Casteel melihat reaksi Calvin terhadap konsili Trent dalam konteks pemikiran konsiliar sang Reformator. Ia menyimpulkan, “Reformator Jenewa itu melihat harapan terbaik akan adanya rekonsiliasi dalam sebuah konsili yang benar-benar ekumenikal–sebuah proyek yang ia perjuangkan hingga akhir hidupnya.**8
Pada dasarnya saya mengikuti kelompok kedua yang berpendapat bahwa Calvin bersikap nonkompromi dalam keyakinannya, kendati demikian ia tetap mengharapkan reformasi gereja Roma yang akan mengarah pada kesatuan. Saya akan mencoba menunjukkan hal ini dengan cara yang belum pernah ditempuh sebelumnya, yakni, menganalisa jawaban Calvin terhadap tuduhan Katolik Roma bahwa para Reformator adalah skismatik. Artikel ini berisi sebagai berikut: tuduhan skismatik dari Katolik Roma terhadap para Reformator, pemahaman Katolik Roma tentang kesatuan, respons Calvin atas tuduhan skisma, dan akhirnya, pada bagian kesimpulan, pengertian Calvin tentang kesatuan gereja, yang diintisarikan dari responsnya terhadap tuduhan skisma dan dari Institutes. Yang pertama dari tiga bagian ini akan diambil terutama dari traktat-traktat dan risalah-risalah yang berhubungan langsung dengan polemik-polemik Calvin-Roma Katolik.**9 Semua isu yang dipresentasikan dalam artikel ini, tentu saja, terdapat dalam Institutes, dan dengan demikian, saya akan mengutip bagian-bagian Institutes yang paralel dan relevan pada catatan kaki.
TUDUHAN SKISMA ROMA KATOLIK
Tuduhan skisma yang paling menonjol terdapat dalam surat yang ditulis oleh uskup Roma, Sadoleto, kepada senat dan masyarakat Jenewa (1539). Melalui surat ini, ia memanfaatkan kesempatan dalam peristiwa pengusiran Calvin dari Jenewa untuk membujuk penduduk Jenewa agar kembali ke sisi gereja Roma. Ia menggambarkan para Reformator sebagai musuh-musuh kesatuan dan kedamaian Kristen, yang menabur benih-benih perselisihan, dan membuat jemaat Kristus yang setia berbalik dari jalan bapa-bapa dan para leluhur mereka.**10 Ia membandingkan mereka seperti abses, “by which some corrupted flesh being torn off, is separated from the spirit which animates the body, and no longer belongs in substance to the body Ecclesiastic.”**11 Paus Paulus III dalam suratnya kepada kaisar Charles V (1544) melukiskan para Reformator sebagai pengacau yang senang dengan pertikaian: “Nay, they rather entirely deprive the Church of all discipline, and of all order, without which no human society can be governed.”**12
Sadoleto, dalam surat yang sama, meragukan ajaran-ajaran para Reformator sebab ajaran itu merupakan inovasi yang baru tercipta, yang usianya baru 25 tahun. Ia mengagungkan kemuliaan usia gereja Katolik Roma yang menurutnya telah hadir selama lebih dari 1500 tahun dan mengklaim bahwa bapa-bapa leluhur gereja berada di pihaknya. Klaim atas otoritas bapa-bapa leluhur gereja merupakan salah satu pokok persengketaan dalam polemik Calvin-gereja Roma. Bagi Sadoleto, yang menjadi soal perdebatan adalah apakah ia harus mengikuti gereja Katolik Roma kuno ataukah membenarkan para pendatang baru yang skismatik itu. “Inilah tempatnya, saudara yang terkasih, inilah jalan raya di mana jalan itu terbagi ke dua arah, yang satu mengarah pada kehidupan, dan yang lain pada kematian abadi.”**13 Ini merupakan seruan kepada orang Katolik untuk memisahkan diri dari para Reformator, sebuah seruan yang semata-mata dibuat berdasar pada otoritas gereja dan tradisi yang diwarisi dari para orang tua. Dasar seruan ini dibuat menjadi lebih eksplisit melalui gambaran Sadoleto tentang dua pilihan atau dua cara, dengan menghadirkan dua orang yang diuji di hadapan Allah. Orang pertama, anggap saja seorang Katolik yang setia, akan mengakui imannya berdasar otoritas gereja Katolik dengan semua hukum, nasihat dan dekritnya. Ia tampil di hadapan Allah berdasar pada ketaatannya pada gereja bapa-bapanya dan bapa-bapa leluhurnya. Dalam pengakuannya itu terefleksikan tuduhan tanpa bukti terhadap para Reformator:
And though new men had come with the Scripture much in their mouths and hands, who attempted to stir some novelties, to pull down what was ancient, to argue against the Church, to snatch away and wrest from us the obedience which we all yielded to it, I was still desirous to adhere firmly to that which had been delivered to me by my parents, and observed from antiquity, with the consent of most holy and most learned Fathers.**14
Kesetiaan kepada gereja merupakan definisi dari hierarki Katolik tentang orang Kristen yang baik, karena di dalam gerejalah keselamatan kekal seseorang yang setia paling terjamin. Paulus III dalam surat tersebut di atas menasihati kaisar Charles V untuk tidak memberi kelonggaran pada kelompok Protestan dan tetap berpegang pada otoritas gereja:
But, dear son, everything depends on this, that you do not allow yourself to be withdrawn from the unity of the Church, that you do not backslide from the custom of the most religious Princes, your forefathers, but in everything pertaining to the discipline, order, and institutions of the Church, pursue the course by which you have, for many years, given the strongest proofs of heart-felt piety.**15
Selanjutnya, Sadoleto menggambarkan orang yang lain, anggaplah mewakili para Reformator, sebagai seorang yang iri dan dengki pada kekuasaan dan privilese hierarki Roma. Kegagalan para Reformator untuk berbagi kekayaan eklesiastikal telah menggerakkan mereka untuk menyerang gereja dan, “induced a great part of the people to contemn those rights of the Church, which had long before been ratified and inviolate.”**16 Ia menuduh mereka semata-mata memberontak pada otoritas konsili, bapa-bapa gereja, para Paus Roma dan tradisi- tradisi.**17 Impresi yang ingin ia bentuk ialah bahwa pemberontak Reformed itu mengklaim mereka tahu lebih banyak dari ajaran-ajaran kuno. Tetapi rasa frustasi karena gagal untuk mengubah gereja akhirnya membuat mereka memecah-belahnya. Pernyataan terakhir sang Reformator yang merasa tidak puas itu, seperti digambarkan oleh Sadoleto, mengatakan demikian:
Having thus by repute for learning and genius acquired fame and estimation among the people, though, indeed, I was not able to overturn the whole authority of the Church, I was, however, the author of great seditions and schisms in it.**18
Di samping itu, tuduh Sadoleto, para Reformator bukan saja memecah gereja tetapi juga mengoyak-ngoyaknya. Ia mengamati bahwa sejak masa Reformasi sekte-sekte berkembang biak. “Sects not agreeing with them, and yet disagreeing with each other–a manifest indication of falsehood, as all doctrine declares.”**19. Pemecahan dan pengoyakan gereja yang kudus itu, menurutnya, sepatutnya adalah pekerjaan setan, bukan pekerjaan Allah.
PEMAHAMAN KATOLIK ROMA MENGENAI KESATUAN
Tuduhan skisma yang sama dilakukan dalam Adultero-German Interim (1548),**20 meskipun tidak langsung seperti dalam surat-surat Sadoleto dan Paulus III. Menurut dekrit imperial ini ada dua tanda yang membedakan gereja dari kawanan skismatik dan bidat, yaitu kesatuan dan katolisitas. Di sini kesatuan dijabarkan sebagai ikatan kasih dan damai yang mempersatukan anggota-anggota gereja bersama-sama.**21 Perhatikan bahwa dalam kesatuan tersebut tidak disebutkan adanya fondasi doktrinal dan spiritual, kecuali ketaatan yang mutlak terhadap ajaran dan disiplin gereja. Lebih jauh lagi, gereja Roma menyombongkan diri sebagai katolik melalui klaimnya atas ekspansi geografis dan temporal serta suksesi apostolik: “diffused through all times and places, and through means of the Apostles and their successors, continued even to us, being propagated by succession even to the ends of the earth, according to the promises of God.”**22 Skismatik dan bidat-bidat, sebagaimana dituduhkan kepada para Reformator, “break the bond of peace, and to their own destruction deprive themselves of Catholic union, while they prefer their own party to the whole universal Church.”**23. Untuk memelihara kesatuan dan integritas gereja Katolik seseorang harus tunduk pada otoritasnya dengan kerendahan dan ketaatan. Sadoleto mengungkapkan sikap demikian:
For we do not arrogate to ourselves anything beyond the opinion and authority of the Church; we do not persuade ourselves that we are wise above what we ought to be; we do not show our pride in contemning the decrees of the Church; we do not make a display among the people of towering intellect or ingenuity, or some new wisdom; but (I speak of true and honest Christians) we proceed in humility and in obedience, and the things delivered to us, and fixed by the authority of our ancestors, (men of the greatest wisdom and holiness) we receive with all faith, as truly dictated and enjoined by the Holy Spirit.**24
Dengan demikian, dapat kita katakan bahwa bagi gereja Roma makna kesatuan tidak lain dari sikap tunduk, yang menjadi dasar klaim infalibilitas dan otoritas gereja. Terhadap dasar inilah sekarang kita beralih.
Kesatuan gereja, menurut Katolik Roma, bertumpu pada infalibilitasnya. Hal ini terungkap jelas dalam Articles Agreed Upon by the Faculty of the Sacred Theology of Paris (1542).**25 Artikel XVIII menyatakan:
Every Christian is bound firmly to believe, that there is on earth one universal visible Church, incapable of erring in faith and manners, and which, in things which relate to faith and manners, all the faithful are bound to obey.**26
Dari artikel ini jelas terbukti bahwa otoritas gereja merupakan otoritas hierarki. Hierarki disamakan dengan gereja yang visibel dan infalibel. Karena visibilitas gereja didasarkan atas visibilitas hierarki, maka yang belakangan juga dianggap infalibel. Bukti kedua untuk infalibilitas hierarki (dan karena itu, otoritasnya juga) ialah suksesi yang terus-menerus dari Petrus. Karena doktrin inilah apapun yang telah ditentukan gereja Roma bersifat otoritatif. Hal ini juga didukung oleh klaim bahwa gereja dipimpin langsung oleh Roh Kudus, karena Roh Kudus tidak bisa salah, maka gereja pun demikian.**27
Infalibilitas gereja merupakan dasar otoritas gereja, dan menjadi perisai yang tak terkalahkan yang melindungi gereja dari serangan musuh-musuhnya, seperti dinyatakan oleh artikel XVII. Di atas dasar inilah bertumpu doktrin-doktrin dan kekuatan gereja. Artikel-artikel berikut**28 memperlihatkan otoritas infalibel gereja yang berakar dari artikel XVIII yang mendahuluinya:
Article XIX: That to the visible Church belongs definitions in doctrine. If any controversy or doubt arises with regard to any thing in the Scriptures, it belongs to the foresaid Church to define and determine.
Article XX: It is certain that many things are to be which are not expressly and specially delivered in the sacred Scriptures, but which are necessarily to be received from the Church by tradition.
Article XXI: With the same full conviction of its truth ought it to be received, that the power of excommunicating is immediately and of divine right granted to the Church of Christ, and that, on that account, ecclesiastical censures are to be greatly feared.
Article XXII: It is certain that a General Council, lawfully convened, representing the whole Church, cannot err in its determination of faith and practice
Article XXIII: Nor is it less certain that in the Church militant there is, by divine right, a Supreme Pontiff whom all christians are bound to obey, and who, indeed, has the power of granting indulgences.
Semua artikel iman ini dimaksudkan untuk memelihara kesatuan gereja, yang menurut pemahaman hierarki gereja Roma, berdasar pada infalibilitas dan otoritasnya. Calvin menolak semua ini dalam polemik- polemiknya dengan gereja Roma. Sebelum kita melihat penolakannya terhadap artikel-artikel iman Paris ini, kita akan menganalisa responsnya atas tuduhan skisma dari hierarki Katolik Roma.
FIRMAN ALLAH DAN GEREJA: RESPONS CALVIN TERHADAP TUDUHAN SKISMA
Isu mendasar berkaitan dengan tuduhan skisma ialah pemahaman tentang gereja. Pada prinsipnya Calvin sependapat dengan Sadoleto bahwa tidak ada yang lebih membahayakan bagi keselamatan kita daripada ibadah yang sia-sia dan menentang aturan Allah. Ia menganggap prinsip ini sebagai batu loncatan bagi pembelaannya atas tuduhan Sadoleto. Namun pertanyaannya, menurut Calvin, dari dua pihak ini manakah yang memelihara ibadah yang benar pada Allah? Bagi Sadoleto, tulis Calvin, ibadah yang benar adalah seperti yang ditentukan oleh gereja. Namun, ia mengajukan sebuah pertanyaan serius sehubungan dengan penggunaan kata “gereja” oleh Sadoleto dan para pengikut Paus. Ia menuduh Sadoleto memiliki delusi tentang istilah “gereja,” atau paling tidak, secara sadar ia memberikan keterangan yang tampaknya mengesankan tetapi palsu. Dalam the Necessity of Reforming the Church, ia mendesak audiensinya untuk tidak merasa takut terhadap penggunaan kata “gereja” oleh para pengikut Paus.**29 Para nabi dan rasul telah berjuang melawan “gereja pura-pura” pada masa mereka. Mereka juga dituduh telah menghina kesatuan gereja. Namun pertanyaannya, gereja yang mana? Bagi Calvin tidaklah cukup hanya menggunakan nama gereja seperti yang dilakukan para pengikut Paus yang berusaha mengejutkan orang-orang dengan memutarbalikkan istilah gereja. “Penilaian harus dilakukan untuk memastikan yang mana gereja sejati, dan apa natur kesatuannya.”**30
Menurutnya, ada dua tanda gereja yang sejati, yakni pemberitaan firman yang setia dan pelaksanaan sakramen yang tepat. Berkaitan dengan kesatuan gereja maka hal yang pertama-tama perlu diperhatikan adalah berhati-hati supaya gereja tidak terpisah dari Kristus, Kepalanya.**31 Ia menjabarkan apa yang ia maksud dengan Kristus, “Ketika saya mengatakan Kristus, maka termasuk dalam pengertiannya adalah doktrin-Nya yang Ia meteraikan dengan darah-Nya.”**32 Melalui kesatuan antara gereja dan Kristus inilah Calvin menyangkal tuduhan bahwa ia dan para Reformator tidak sependapat dengan gereja.**33 Tuduhan skisma harus dianggap sebagai ketaatan kepada Kristus lebih dari ketaatan kepada gereja Roma. Dalam The Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church, Calvin, mengutip Hilary, berkeyakinan bahwa satu-satunya kedamaian gereja ialah yang berasal dari Kristus. Ikatan kedamaian adalah kebenaran Injil.**34 Implikasi kesatuan itu diekspresikan demikian: “Wherefore, if we would unite in holding a unity of the Church, let it be by a common consent only to the truth of Christ.”**35 Selanjutnya, dalam Remarks on the Letter of Pope Paul III (to the Emperor Charles V), ia mengusulkan sebuah pembedaan antara gereja yang sejati dan yang palsu berdasar pada kesetiaan kepada Kristus, yang merupakan dasar kesatuan.
Let Farnese (Pope) then show that Christ is on his side, and he will prove that unity of the Church is with him. But seeing it is impossible to adhere to him without denying Christ, he who turns aside from him makes no departure from the Church, but discriminates between the true Church and a church adulterous and false.**36
Calvin menekankan firman Allah dalam pemahamannya tentang gereja. Yang ia maksud dengan gereja ialah, “from incorruptible seed begets children for immortality, and, when begotten, nourishes them with spiritual food (the seed and food being the Word of God).”**37 Tempat bagi firman Allah adalah sesuatu yang hilang dalam pengertian gereja Roma. Kepada Sadoleto ia menyatakan,
In defining the term, you omit what would have helped you, is no small degree, to the right understanding of it. When you describe it as that which in all parts, as well as at the present time, in every region of the earth, being united and consenting in Christ, has been always and every where directed by the one Spirit of Christ, what comes of the Word of the Lord, that clearest of all marks, and which the Lord himself, in pointing out the Church, so often recommends to us? For seeing how dangerous it would be to boast of the Spirit without the Word, he declared that the Church is indeed governed by the Holy Spirit, but in order that that government might be not be vague and unstable, he annexed it to the Word of God.**38
Bagi Calvin, Roh dan firman tidak dapat dipisahkan. “Learn, then by your own experience, that it is no less unreasonable to boast of the Spirit without the Word, than it would be absurd to bring forward the Word itself without the Spirit.”**39 Dengan prinsip ini, ia memberikan definisi yang lebih tepat tentang gereja, yaitu “sebuah kumpulan dari semua orang kudus, sebuah kumpulan yang menyebar ke seluruh dunia dan hadir di sepanjang zaman, namun terikat bersama- sama oleh satu doktrin, dan satu Roh Kristus, yang mempererat dan memelihara kesatuan iman dan harmoni persaudaraan.”**40 Dari definisi ini ia kemudian membuat klaim yang pasti tentang kesatuan: “With this Church we deny that we have any disagreement. Nay, rather, as we revere her as our mother, so we desire to remain in her bosom.”**41 Calvin menyatakan bahwa para Reformator menganggap kesatuan gereja sebagai sesuatu yang kudus dan mereka menyampaikan kutuk terhadap semua orang yang dengan cara apapun melanggarnya.**42 Ia memahami kesatuan gereja sebagai sesuatu yang berakar dari prinsip Kitab Suci, “satu Tuhan, satu iman, satu baptisan, satu Allah dan Bapa dari semua.” Ia mencirikan iman dengan mengatakan, “Lebih jauh, kita harus ingat apa yang dikatakan dalam perikop lain, ‘bahwa iman datang dari firman Allah.’ Karena itu, biarlah itu menjadi poin yang pasti bahwa kesatuan yang kudus hadir di antara kita, ketika kita sepakat dalam doktrin yang murni kita dipersatukan dalam Kristus saja.”**43 Syarat kedamaian adalah “Kebenaran Allah yang murni, suara dari Sang Gembala semata,” sedangkan “terhadap suara orang-orang asing penjaga menentang dan menolaknya.”**44 Melalui hal ini ia menekankan kesepakatan doktrinal lebih dari sekadar ketaatan eksternal kepada gereja. Ia memberikan komentar terhadap perkataan Paulus di Efesus 4:12-15:
Could he [Paul] more plainly comprise the whole unity of the Church in a holy agreement in a true doctrine, than when he calls us back to Christ and to faith, which is included in the knowledge of him, and to obedience to the truth?**45
PELAYANAN GEREJA DAN FIRMAN ALLAH
Salah satu isu yang Calvin bahas dengan Sadoleto adalah masalah jabatan-jabatan gereja. Ia mengamati dari surat Sadoleto bahwa Sadoleto menuntut ketaatan dan kesetiaan kepada pejabat-pejabat gereja dengan landasan bahwa mereka dianugerahkan otoritas. Calvin mengoreksi gagasan yang keliru ini. Baginya, otoritas dan kekuasaan orang-orang yang ditunjuk untuk jabatan gereja dibatasi dalam limit-limit tertentu sesuai jabatan mereka menurut firman Allah. Dalam limitasi ini Kristus membatasi penghormatan yang Ia haruskan untuk diberikan kepada para rasul dan, karena itu, juga kepada para gembala. Tugas utama para gembala adalah memberitakan dan mengajarkan sabda Tuhan guna memajukan gereja. Inilah satu-satunya tujuan kekuasaan rohani, yakni “to avail only for edification, to wear no semblance of domination, and not to be employed in subjugating faith.”**46 Paus, meskipun mengklaim sebagai pengganti Petrus, juga tidak dibebaskan dari limitasi ini. Kemerosotan disiplin di kalangan para uskup Roma, menurut pengamatan Calvin, adalah salah satu alasan mengapa gereja telah jatuh ke dalam kondisi yang demikian menyedihkan. Disiplin gereja mempunyai beberapa implikasi bagi kesatuannya karena menurutnya, agar gereja bersatu harus diikat bersama-sama melalui disiplin seperti halnya tubuh yang diikat otot-ototnya. Dalam hal ini menuduh balik para pejabat Katolik Roma yang telah menghancurkan integritas gereja melalui penyalahgunaan jabatan eklesiastikal; merekalah yang menabur benih-benih perpecahan. Ia secara tegas menyangkal tuduhan Sadoleto yang mengatakan bahwa para Reformator melepaskan diri dari kuk tirani gereja agar mereka sendiri bebas untuk melakukan tindakan amoral yang tak terkendalikan.**47
Dalam The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Calvin mengevaluasi pertanyaan tentang suksesi yang berhubungan dengan masalah disiplin gereja, dan dengan demikian, seperti telah kita lihat di atas, berhubungan juga dengan kesatuan gereja. Mengenai hubungan antara kontinuitas (atau suksesi) dan kesatuan ia mengatakan, “no one, therefore, can lay claim to the right of ordaining, who does not, by purity of doctrine, preserve the unity of the Church.”**48 Pernyataan ini merupakan reaksi terhadap klaim Katolik Roma bahwa hanya merekalah yang memiliki hak dan kekuasaan untuk menahbiskan orang-orang ke dalam pelayanan gereja dan menentukan bentuk ordinasinya. Para pengikut Paus menyebut kanon-kanon kuno yang mereka klaim telah memberikan superintendensi untuk masalah-masalah mengenai para uskup dan klerus.**49 Suksesi yang konstan telah dilimpahkan kepada mereka, bahkan itu berasal dari para rasul. Mereka menyangkal bahwa jabatan itu bisa ditransfer secara sah kepada orang lain. Dengan demikian, berkaitan dengan klaim suksesi ini, para Reformator yang menjalankan pelayanan tanpa otoritas Katolik Roma, telah merampas kekuasaan eklesiastikal dan telah melakukan invasi terhadap wewenang hierarki Katolik Roma.**50
Calvin membantah klaim suksesi ini dengan menyatakan bahwa suksesi apostolik telah lama diinterupsi oleh keuskupan Katolik Roma.
But if we consider, first, the order in which for several ages have been advanced to this dignity, next the manner in which they conduct themselves in it, and lastly, the kind of persons whom they are accustomed to ordain, and to whom they commit the goverment of churches, we shall see that this succession on which they pride themselves was long ago interrupted.**51
Ia menguraikan tiga kategori aturan penunjukan para uskup, cara bagaimana mereka mengatur diri mereka sendiri dalam jabatan itu, dan jenis orang yang mereka tunjuk.**52 Pertama, oleh karena hierarki Katolik telah merebut bagi diri mereka sendiri kekuasaan tunggal untuk menunjuk para klerus, Calvin mendebatnya dengan bertitik tolak dari sejarah gereja, “the magistracy and people had a discretionary power (arbitrium) of approving or refusing the individual who was nominated by the clergy, in order that no man might be intruded on the unwilling or not consenting.”**53 Dalam hal cara para uskup mengatur diri mereka, ia bersikeras agar siapapun yang mengatur gereja, hendaknya ia juga mengajar.**54 Tujuan Kristus menunjuk para uskup dan gembala ialah, seperti dinyatakan Paulus, agar mereka mengajar gereja dengan doktrin yang sehat. Menurut pandangan ini, seorang gembala gereja yang baik tidak mungkin tidak melaksanakan tugas mengajar.**55 Ia mengamati bahwa para uskup tidak melaksanakan tugas ini dengan setia. “As if they had been appointed to secular dominion, there is nothing they less think of than episcopal duty.”**56 Tidak heran jika kemudian orang-orang yang mereka promosikan untuk mendapat kehormatan sebagai imam adalah mereka yang memiliki karakter serupa. Ia menuntut dengan tegas agar ada eksaminasi yang ketat terhadap kehidupan dan doktrin mereka yang ingin menjadi pendeta, seperti yang sekarang dilakukan di gereja-gereja para Reformator.**57 Mengenai upacara ordinasi, Calvin berargumen bahwa praktek Katolik Roma tidak bersumber dari Alkitab.**58 “Satu-satunya yang kita baca, seperti yang biasa dilakukan pada zaman kuno, adalah penumpangan tangan.”**59
Hal yang sangat kritis dalam semua klaim suksesi apostolik ini ialah doktrin Injil yang murni. Keprihatinannya ini ia rangkum dengan kalimat, “Setiap orang yang melalui tingkah lakunya memperlihatkan bahwa ia adalah musuh dari doktrin yang sehat, apapun gelar yang mungkin ia banggakan, ia telah kehilangan semua otoritasnya dalam gereja,”**60 karena itu ia pun tidak bisa mengklaim suksesi apostolik. Pernyataan-pernyataan ini begitu signifikan sebab telah menggoncangkan fondasi utama gereja Roma.
KESATUAN DAN FIRMAN ALLAH
Pemahaman yang benar mengenai gereja dalam relasinya dengan firman Allah, batasan-batasan dan tujuan jabatan otoritas gereja dan disiplin, serta suksesi apostolik yang tepat telah meletakkan dasar bagi pembelaan Calvin terhadap tuduhan skisma dan bidat. Dalam jawabannya kepada Sadoleto, ia membuat pembelaan ini dengan mempertentangkan pengakuan dari orang Kristen Reformed dengan kesetiaan Katolik yang dipaparkan oleh Sadoleto. Reformator itu mengaku bahwa tidak ada hal lain yang ia lakukan kecuali percaya bahwa tidak ada kebenaran yang dapat mengarahkan jiwa seseorang menuju jalan kehidupan selain dari apa yang dikobarkan melalui firman itu. Segala hal lain yang berasal dari penemuan manusia adalah kesombongan yang sia-sia dan pemberhalaan.
Calvin berusaha menghadirkan dan menguraikan apa yang dipercayainya sebagai doktrin yang murni dan kebenaran Injil. Melalui hal ini ia memperjelas bahwa tujuan para Reformator adalah untuk kebangkitan gereja kembali. Ia memperhatikan bahwa sejumlah besar kebenaran dari doktrin kenabian dan evangelikal telah musnah dan telah “diusir dengan kasar oleh api dan pedang”**61 dalam gereja Roma. Ia menolak tuduhan Sadoleto bahwa semua yang coba dilakukan oleh para Reformator hanyalah untuk menghancurkan semua doktrin sehat yang telah disetujui oleh orang-orang beriman selama lima belas abad. Dengan gamblang ia menjelaskan bahwa para Reformator jauh lebih sesuai dengan zaman awal kekristenan dibanding gereja Roma,**62 dan Sadoleto sendiri tidak dapat menyangkalnya.
Bagi Calvin, bentuk gereja yang telah diinstitusikan oleh para rasul merupakan satu-satunya model yang benar, dan bentuk kuno gereja itu yang dibuktikan dalam tulisan-tulisan bapa-bapa gereja kini telah menjadi puing-puing. Ia memperjelas tujuan tindakan para Reformator yaitu untuk memperbarui gereja, dan perlunya melakukan hal itu bukan disebabkan oleh imoralitas dari keuskupan Roma seperti yang diklaim oleh Sadoleto. Menurut Calvin, yang mendorong para Reformator melakukan reformasi ialah karena “cahaya kebenaran ilahi itu telah dipadamkan, firman Allah telah dikubur, kebaikan Kristus tertinggal dalam pengabaian yang dalam, dan jabatan gembala ditumbangkan.”**63 Dengan berjuang menentang kejahatan-kejahatan seperti itu, mereka tidak berperang melawan gereja, namun justru mendampingi gereja di tengah penderitaannya yang sangat.**64 Ia bertanya kepada Sadoleto dengan tajam, apakah seseorang yang “sangat giat untuk kesalehan dan kekudusan seperti pada zaman gereja mula-mula, yang tidak puas dengan kondisi yang ada dalam gereja yang pecah dan rusak, dan berusaha untuk memperbaiki kondisi gereja serta merestorasinya agar mencapai kemegahan yang sejati” akan dianggap sebagai musuh?**65 Pastor Jenewa itu menyebut dua tanda dari gereja yang telah disebutkan di atas dan bertanya kepada kardinal Katolik itu, “dengan yang manakah dari hal- hal ini yang kalian ingin kami gunakan untuk menilai gereja?”**66
Apa yang disebut skisma oleh orang-orang Katolik Roma, Calvin menyatakannya sebagai usaha para Reformator untuk membawa gereja yang terdisintegrasi itu kepada kesatuan.**67 Ia membuat sebuah analogi menarik antara orang yang melakukan Reformasi dan seseorang yang mengangkat panji pimpinan militer untuk memanggil prajurit-prajurit yang terpencar agar kembali ke pos mereka. Pemimpin militer itu adalah Kristus dan prajurit-prajurit yang terpencar itu ialah para pemimpin gereja. Orang yang mengangkat bendera pemimpin itu adalah Reformator, dan diangkatnya bendera menandakan sebuah panggilan bagi kesatuan, yang diekspresikan Calvin dengan tajam,
In order to bring them together, when thus scattered, I raised not a foreign standard, but that noble banner of thine whom we must follow, if we would classed among thy people …. Always, both by word and deed, have I protested how eager I was for unity. Mine, however, was a unity of the Church, which should begin with thee and end in thee. For as oft as thou didst recommend to us peace and concord, thou, at the same time, didst show that thopu wert the only bond for preserving it. But if I desired to be at peace with those who boasted of being the heads of the Church and pillars of faith, I behoved to purchase it with the denial of thy truth. I thought that any thing was to be endured sooner than stoop to such a nefarious paction.**68
Calvin menyamakan para klerus Roma dengan serigala yang sangat lapar dan nabi-nabi palsu yang Kristus prediksikan akan ada di antara umat- Nya. Tindakan para Reformator dibandingkan dengan pelayanan para nabi zaman kuno, yang tidak dianggap skismatik ketika mereka mengharapkan bangkitnya kembali agama yang telah terdekadensi. Mereka tetap berada di dalam kesatuan gereja,**69 “walaupun mereka ditetapkan untuk dihukum mati oleh para pendeta yang jahat, dan dianggap tidak layak memperoleh tempat di antara manusia ….. **70 Jelaslah bahwa motif para Reformator bukan untuk memecah-belah gereja tetapi untuk memperbaharuinya dan memimpin kelompok-kelompok Kristen ke dalam kesatuan.**71 Baginya ada perbedaan besar antara “skisma dari gereja dan belajar untuk memperbaiki kesalahan-kesalahan di mana gereja sendiri pun telah terkontaminasi.”**72Skisma muncul ketika gereja Roma menolak untuk dikoreksi:
Thou, O Lord, knowest, and the fact itself has testified to men, that the only thing I asked was, that controversies should be decided by thy word, that thus both parties might unite with one mind to establish thy kingdom; and I declined not to restore peace to the Church at the expense of my head, if I were found to have been unnecessarily the cause of tumult. But what did our opponents?… Did they not spurn at all methods of pacification?**73
Ia mengakhiri jawabannya kepada Sadoleto dengan sebuah doa yang merefleksikan esensi responsnya atas tuduhan skisma Katolik Roma:
The Lord grant, Sadolet(o), that you and all your party may at length perceive, that the only true bond of Ecclesiastical unity would exist if Christ the Lord, who hath reconciled us to God the Father, were to gather us out of our present dispersion into the fellowship of his body, that so, through his one Word and Spirit, we might join together with one heart and one soul.**74
OTORITAS GEREJA DAN FIRMAN ALLAH
Kini kita akan mempertimbangkan Response (or Antidote) to Articles Agreed Upon by the Faculty of Sacred Theology of Paris (1543) dari Calvin. Walaupun kepentingan utama dari artikel itu adalah untuk menentukan doktrin-doktrin yang harus diajarkan dan dipercayai, artikel tersebut memiliki implikasi-implikasi penting bagi pemahaman Katolik Roma mengenai kesatuan. Artikel-artikel inilah yang mendefinisikan gereja Katolik yang satu dan kudus. Apa yang mereka sebar luaskan adalah cara Katolik Roma berjuang dengan kekuatan- kekuatan yang memecah-belah di dalamnya; artikel-artikel ini dimaksudkan untuk “menenangkan gelombang opini yang menentang.”**75 Prolog dari artikel-artikel ini menyebut peringatan Paulus untuk kesatuan dalam kitab Efesus, yaitu agar mereka jangan “seperti anak- anak yang diombang-ambingkan oleh rupa-rupa angin pengajaran.” Menanggapi hal ini Calvin memberikan antidot pertama di mana ia menekankan firman Allah, dan bersikeras bahwa inilah (firman Allah) yang menjadi otoritas satu-satunya untuk menyelesaikan atau memutuskan kontroversi-kontroversi. Ia menyebut beberapa bagian dari Alkitab dan bapa-bapa leluhur gereja untuk membuktikan bahwa otoritas satu-satunya yang membuat gereja tetap bereksistensi adalah firman Allah. Ia menyimpulkan,
Oleh karena itu, di tengah pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang bertentangan di masa sekarang ini, marilah kita mengikuti nasihat yang menurut Theodoret, (Lib. I. Hist. Eccles. cap. 7) diberikan oleh Constantine kepada para uskup di konsili Nicea — marilah kita mencari kebulatan hati dari sabda Allah yang murni.**76
Otoritas Alkitab menjadi sangat berarti ketika kita memperhatikan cara Calvin meletakkannya di atas dan terhadap otoritas gereja seperti yang diajukan dalam Artikel-artikel Iman, khususnya bab XVIII-XXIII, oleh Fakultas Teologi di Paris. Dengan berdasar pada otoritas Alkitab ia menantang klaim gereja mengenai otoritas. Pada Artikel XVII, bersama dengan orang-orang Katolik Roma, ia mengakui bahwa hanya ada satu gereja yang universal. Kendati demikian, pertanyaan yang lebih krusial bagi Calvin adalah bagaimana seseorang mengenali penampakan dari gereja. Jawabannya sederhana, yaitu firman Allah. “Kita menempatkannya di dalam firman Allah, atau, dengan kata lain, karena Kristus adalah Kepalanya, kita percaya bahwa gereja harus dilihat dalam Kristus sebagaimana seseorang dikenali melalui wajahnya.”**77 Apa yang ia maksud dengan firman Allah dan Kristus adalah pemberitaan Injil? Baginya, pemberitaan Injil dan visibilitas Kristus dan gereja saling berkorelasi. “Sebagaimana pemberitaan Injil yang murni tidak selalu dinyatakan, maka wajah Kristus pun tidak selalu menarik perhatian,”**78 demikian juga gereja tidak selalu dapat dilihat.**79 Orang-orang Katolik Roma mendasarkan visibilitas dan otoritas gereja Katolik yang satu pada hierarkinya, sedangkan Calvin mendasarkannya pada pemberitaan firman.**80
Pada Artikel XIX, berkenaan dengan otoritas gereja yang visibel dalam mendefinisikan dan menentukan isu-isu kontroversial, Calvin menantang pemikiran bahwa yang visibel selalu benar seperti yang diperlihatkan dalam sejarah. Sikap ini berbahaya karena mereka “yang menerima definisi gereja yang visibel tanpa penilaian, dan tanpa terkecuali, bisa membuat seseorang terpaksa menyangkal Kristus.”**81 Sekali lagi ia memberi penekanan pada firman untuk menyelesaikan perbantahan.
Jika muncul pertikaian diantara gereja-gereja, kita mengakui bahwa metode yang sah untuk menciptakan keharmonisan, yang selalu dicari-cari, adalah para pendeta itu berkumpul, dan mendefinisikan dari firman Allah tentang apa yang harus diikuti.**82
Pada artikel XX, berkaitan dengan hal-hal yang tidak diungkapkan secara jelas dan khusus di dalam Alkitab namun bagaimanapun juga harus dipercaya dan diterima oleh gereja melalui tradisi, Calvin mengutip Agustinus dan Chrysostom, selain dari Alkitab, segala sesuatu yang penting untuk keselamatan telah dinyatakan kepada kita dan hal-hal selain Injil tidak boleh dipercaya.
Berkaitan dengan kekuasaan ekskomunikasi, dalam artikel XXI ia mengakui bahwa kekuasaan untuk mengekskomunikasi telah diserahkan kepada gereja, begitu pula cara penggunaannya telah ditentukan (dalam firman Allah). Ini berarti ekskomunikasi harus dilakukan melalui “mulut Allah” dan tujuannya haruslah untuk pertumbuhan kerohanian/ kebaikan.**83 Hal ini jelas merupakan sebuah kontrol atau pembatasan terhadap penyalahgunaan kekuasaan ini yang dilakukan oleh hierarki Katolik yang, Fakultas Teologi di Paris mengakui, tidak boleh mempersoalkan apakah ekskomunikasi itu adil asalkan itu dilakukan dalam nama-Nya (Kristus).**84
Artikel XXII menyatakan bahwa otoritas konsili-konsili tidak dapat salah asal Paus memimpinnya dan bentuk-bentuk legal serta protokol dipelihara sebagaimana mestinya. Terhadap hal ini Calvin menekankan otoritas atau kepemimpinan Kristus. Ia tidak percaya konsili apapun yang hanya bersidang menurut aturan-aturan manusia sebagaimana mestinya, kecuali jika konsili itu dikumpulkan dalam nama Kristus. Maksudnya, Kristuslah yang memimpin, karena jika tidak konsili- konsili itu dipimpin berdasarkan pemikiran mereka sendiri dan karena itu yang mereka lakukan tidak lain dari kesalahan. Sebuah konsili yang berkumpul di dalam nama Kristus dipimpin oleh Roh Kudus, dan di bawah bimbingan-Nya, dipimpin kepada kebenaran.**85
Hal ini mengarah pada pertanyaan mengenai keutamaan Paus dalam Artikel XXII. Artikel ini lebih merupakan suatu pertahanan atas kepausan dari serangan kaum Lutheran, yang bersikeras bahwa Batu Karang itu adalah Kristus sebagai dasar gereja, dan menyangkal suksesi kepausan, serta tidak mau mengakui keutamaan Roma. Bagi Calvin, Kristuslah Kepala Gereja yang universal, bukannya Paus. Alkitab tidak berbicara mengenai pelayanan Paus, dan rasul Paulus pun tidak berpikir bahwa gereja merupakan satu keuskupan yang universal. “Sebagai penghargaan atas kesatuan, ia (Paulus) menyebut satu Tuhan, satu iman, satu baptisan (Efesus 4:11). Mengapa ia tidak menambahkan satu Paus sebagai kepala pelayanan?”**86 Ia menggambarkan relasi antara Petrus dan Paulus dan rasul-rasul yang lain, dan di dalam relasi itu tidak ada isyarat bahwa Petrus superior dibanding yang lain.**87 Bagi Calvin, gereja adalah tubuh Kristus di mana kepada setiap anggotanya diberikan “suatu ukuran yang pasti dan fungsi tertentu serta terbatas agar kekuasaan yang utama dari pemerintah terletak hanya pada Kristus.”**88 Dalam keutamaan Kristus yang universal inilah terletak kesatuan dan katolisitas gereja, yang telah terbukti kebenarannya oleh bapa-bapa gereja, antara lain Cyprian dan Gregory. Cyprian secara khusus membuat analogi-analogi tentang satu cahaya (light) dengan banyak berkas cahaya (rays), satu batang yang ditunjang oleh akarnya dan memiliki banyak cabang, (rays), satu batang yang ditunjang oleh akarnya dan memiliki banyak cabang, satu sumber air dan banyak sungai, “demikian juga gereja, dengan diliputi cahaya dari Tuhan, ia mengirim berkas-berkas cahayanya tersebar ke mana-mana; gereja juga memperbanyak cabang-cabangnya, ia mencurahkan sungai-sungai turun ke seluruh dunia; namun tetap semuanya itu berasal dari satu kepala dan satu sumber.”**89 Calvin berkomentar bahwa, menurut Cyprian, keuskupan Kristus ialah satu-satunya yang universal, dan ia mengajarkan agar bagian-bagian itu dipegang oleh para pelayan-Nya.**90
Polemik-polemik Calvin dengan Roma mengenai tuduhan skisma tidak diragukan lagi telah menghasilkan refleksi-refleksi yang sangat dalam mengenai gereja dan kesatuannya. Isu dasarnya adalah pemahaman tentang gereja, tetapi tidak terlepas dari Kristus dan firman Allah. Gereja adalah milik Kristus dan dipersatukan di dalam Dia. Hal ini paling jelas terlihat melalui pemberitaan Injil dan pelaksanaan sakramen- sakramen yang tepat. Di dalam firman itulah terletak otoritas gereja. Semua kuasa dan fungsi pelayanan gereja dibatasi dalam firman Allah. Jabatan gereja, disiplin, dan aturan suksesi diatur oleh Roh Kristus menurut firman Allah dan semuanya itu dimaksudkan guna memajukan gereja. Calvin dan para Reformator percaya bahwa gereja Roma telah mengkorupsi doktrin Injil yang murni, menyalahgunakan kekuasaannya, dan mempromosikan segala jenis takhayul. Oleh karena itu, tujuan yang jelas dari para Reformator adalah membantu memulihkan atau memperbarui gereja Roma kepada keadaannya yang lebih murni sesuai pola gereja mula-mula seperti yang dikenal oleh bapa-bapa leluhur gereja. Calvin menganggap tuduhan skisma terhadap mereka sebagai suatu pertanyaan untuk memilih Kristus atau gereja Roma. Itu adalah pertanyaan mengenai yang manakah gereja sejati itu. Karena para Reformator taat kepada Kristus dan firman-Nya, mereka tetap berada dalam satu gereja yang sejati, dan oleh sebab itu mereka tidak dapat dianggap memisahkan diri dari gereja atau memecah-belahnya.
Calvin mencintai gereja seperti ia mencintai Kristus; kedua hal ini tidak dapat dipisahkan. Ia mengabdikan seluruh buku IV dari Institutes untuk menguraikan secara detail mengenai gereja Katolik yang kudus. Ia menyebut gereja itu sebagai ibu, karena Allah telah menyerahkan kita kepadanya agar kita bertumbuh dalam iman.**91 Itu sebabnya sangat penting untuk mengenalnya dan tidak mengabaikannya. Mereka yang tidak memiliki hubungan dengannya berarti juga tidak memiliki hubungan dengan Kristus, dan oleh karena itu mereka tidak memiliki keselamatan. Mereka yang mengabaikannya adalah orang-orang yang murtad, yang membelot dari kebenaran dan dari keluarga Allah, mereka adalah penyangkal-penyangkal Allah dan Kristus. Calvin percaya bahwa gereja terdiri dari semua orang pilihan Allah, termasuk mereka yang telah meninggal dunia. Gereja adalah katolik atau universal, yang berarti gereja adalah satu.
All the elect of God are so joined together in Christ, that as they depend on one head, so they are as it were compacted into one body, being knit together like its different members; made truly one by living together under the same Spirit of God in one faith, hope, and charity, called not only to the same inheritance of eternal life, but to participation in one God and Christ.**92
Sekalipun Calvin berbicara mengenai gereja yang tidak kelihatan, ia tidak mengabaikan berbicara tentang manifestasinya yang kelihatan, tentang jemaat lokal. Ia juga memberi perhatian besar untuk memperlihatkan karakternya yang visibel, yang ditandai terutama sekali dengan kesatuan:
This article of the Creed relates in some measure to the external Church, that every one of us must maintain brotherly concord with all the children of God, give due authority to the Church and, in short, conduct ourselves as sheep of the flock. And hence the additional expression, the “communion of the saints;”…just as it had been said, that saints are united in the fellowship of Christ on this condition, that all the blessings which God bestows upon them are mutually communicated to each other.**93
Tetapi kesatuan ini, agar terpelihara, harus diikat dengan aturan yang telah ditentukan Allah**94 dan dengan kebenaran doktrin ilahi.**95 Hal ini mungkin memberi kita suatu kesan bahwa Calvin adalah seorang pendeta yang tidak fleksibel. Namun bagaimanapun juga ia mengakui bahwa ketidaksempurnaan bisa timbul di dalam pemberitaan Injil dan pelaksanaan sakramen-sakramen. Ia membuat perbedaan antara doktrin-doktrin yang fundamental dengan yang sekunder (adiaphora), dan menyatakan bahwa semuanya ini tidak memiliki nilai yang sama**96. Semua perbedaan minor ini dalam cara apapun seharusnya tidak dijadikan alasan untuk mengabaikan gereja atau untuk menciptakan kelompok lain. “what I say is, that we are not on account of every minute difference to abandon a church, provided it retain sound and unimpaired that doctrine in which the safety of piety consists.”**97 Ia juga tidak merekomendasikan agar seseorang meninggalkan gereja karena adanya penyelewengan moral di antara para anggotanya. “Kita terlalu sombong bila kita dengan segera membenarkan diri untuk keluar dari persekutuan gereja, karena kehidupan semua orang tidak sesuai dengan penilaian kita, atau bahkan dengan pernyataan Kristen.”**98
Dari presentasi pandangan Calvin mengenai gereja dan kesatuannya, jelaslah bahwa perbedaan-perbedaan antara para Reformator dan gereja Roma pada hakikatnya bersifat fundamental, dan bahwa natur dari Reformasi pada dasarnya bersifat pembaharuan. Tetapi Calvin juga banyak berbicara menentang denominasionalisme dan fundamentalisme yang kaku, yang begitu tidak fleksibelnya sehingga hanya karena ketidaksepakatan doktrinal yang minor dan bahkan karena konflik- konflik pribadi, mereka memecah-belah atau memisahkan diri dari gereja. Boleh dibilang Calvin adalah seorang injili yang ekumenikal.
Catatan Kaki :
- The Quest for Church Unity from John Calvin to Isaac d’Huisseau (Allison Park: Pickwick, 1986) 3. Pendirian ini dan yang saya anut mirip dengan pendirian Daniel Lucas Lukito dalam artikelnya, “Esensi dan Relevansi Teologi Reformasi,” Veritas 2/2 (Oktober 2001) 149-157. Bdk. G. C. Berkouwer, “Calvin and Rome” dalam John Calvin: Contemporary Prophet, A. Symposium (ed. Jacob T. Hoogstra; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1959) 185. Untuk pengertian Calvin mengenai kebenaran, lih. Charles Partee, “Calvin’s Polemic: Foundational Convictions in the Service of God’s Truth” dalam Calvinus Sincerioris: Calvin as Protector of the Purer Religion (Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies vol. XXXVI; ed. Wilhelm Neuser & Brian G. Armstrong; Kirksville: Sixteenth Century Journal) 97-122.
- “Calvin and the Union of the Churches” dalam John Calvin (ed. G. E. Duffield; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966) 118.
- “Calvin on Fundamental Articles and Ecclesiastical Union,” Westminster Theological Journal 54 (1992) 342-343.
- Ibid. 341
- John T. McNeill, “Calvin as an Ecumenical Churchman,” Church History 32 (1963) 379 dst. Robert M. Kingdon, “Some French Reactions to the Council of Trent,” Church History 33 (1964) 149 dst.; I. John Hesselink, “Calvinus Oecumenicus: Calvin’s Vision of the Unity and Catholicity of the Church,” Reformed World XXX; Theodore W. Casteel, “Calvin and Trent: Calvin’s Reaction to the Council of Trent in the Context of His Conciliar Thought,” Harvard Theological Review 63 (1970) 91 dst.
- “Calvin as an Ecumenical Churchman” 390-391.
- “Some French Reactions” 151.
- “Calvin and Trent” 117. Untuk pendapat kontra lih. Robert E. McNally, “The Council of Trent and the German Protestants,” Theological Studies 25 (1964) 1-22.
- H. Beveridge memberikan introduksi yang baik untuk The Tracts and Treatises on the Reformation of the Church by John Calvin (3 vol.; tr. Henry Beveridge; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958) v-xli. Referensi selanjutnya bersumber dari buku ini, kecuali jika saya sebutkan lain. Untuk diskusi tentang risalah polemik Calvin, lih. Francis Higman, “I Came Not to Send Peace, But a Sword” dalam Calvinus Sincerioris 123-135.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.4,5.
- Ibid. 14.
- Ibid. 240. Surat Paus Paulus III kepada Charles V (1544) adalah teguran kepada sang kaisar yang memberi kelonggaran, meskipun hanya berupa sedikit keringanan dari tuduhan yang tidak adil kepada kaum Protestan, dan yang telah mengambil yurisdiksi dalam masalah-masalah agama yang berada di luar lingkup jabatannya. Paulus III mengeluh, “the Emperor, in claming illegal jurisdiction, had committed two sins: first, he had presumed, without consulting him, to promise a Council: and secondly, he had not hesitated to undertake an investigation alien to his office” (ibid. 238). Calvin memberi tanggapan yang tajam mengenai surat ini (1544). Ia mengekspos hipokrisi Paus dengan menunjukkan fakta bahwa semua konsili besar gereja pada masa-masa awal diputuskan bukan oleh para Paus atau uskup, tetapi oleh kaisar.
- Ibid. 16.
- Ibid. 16, 17.
- Ibid. 239.
- Ibid. 17, bdk. h.5.
- Ibid. 18.
- Ibid. 19.
- Diumumkan secara resmi oleh kaisar Charles V, Interim diduga sebagai rencana kompromis antara orang-orang Katolik dan Protestan selama menunggu keputusan konsili umum. Kecuali artikel-artikel tentang Communion mengenai jenis dan pernikahan para imam, konstitusi imperial itu condong ke arah Katolik Roma. Apa yang dinamakan Common States (negeri-negeri Katolik) yang tetap setia kepada gereja Roma harus terus memelihara ordonansi-ordonansi dan anggaran dasar gereja yang universal, yakni, Katolik Roma, dan States (negeri-negeri protestan) yang telah memeluk apa yang disebut inovasi-inovasi itu diperingatkan untuk menghubungkan diri mereka kembali dengan Common States, dan sepakat dalam memelihara anggaran dasar dan upacara-upacara gereja Katolik yang universal (Tracts and Treatises 3.192).
- Ibid. 205.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.11.
- Sorbonne Theological Faculty pada tahun 1543, dengan otoritas dari Francis I, menyusun dan menerbitkan 25 artikel yang menolak ajaran Reformasi. Calvin menyangkal dan menerbitkan artikel-artikel tersebut pada tahun 1544. Di dalamnya ia memberikan teks dari setiap artikel diikuti dengan komentarnya terhadap artikel tersebut. Dengan status magisterial, artikel-artikel tersebut menentukan bahwa doktrin-doktrin itu mengikat dan harus diajar oleh para doktor dan pendeta dan dipercayai oleh orang-orang yang setia. Bahwa gereja adalah ekuivalen atau di atas Alkitab, terungkap secara eksplisit dalam dokumen ini. “The place ought to have very great authority in the Church; and although our masters are deficient in proofs from Scripture, they compensate the defect by another authority which they have, viz., that of the Church, which is equivalent to Scripture, or even (according to the Doctors) surpassed it in certainty” (ibid. 71, 72).
- Ibid. 101.
- Ibid. 102.
- Ibid. 103-112.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.212. “The Necessity of Reforming the Church” dipresentasikan di hadapan Imperial Diet di Spires tahun 1544, menyampaikan sebuah “Supplicatory Remonstrance” kepada kaisar Charles V, sehubungan dengan konsili umum gereja menurut cara gereja mula-mula. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.2, 4.
- Ibid. 213.
- Ibid. Dalam Institutes IV.i.2-7, Calvin mengacu pada gereja bukan hanya gereja yang terlihat tetapi juga orang-orang pilihan Allah. Pemilihan sebagai dasar kesatuan gereja bukanlah tema umum dalam polemik-polemiknya dengan gereja Roma. Bdk. Arthur C. Cochrane, “The Mystery of the Continuity of the Church: A Study in Reformed Symbolics,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 2 (1965) 81-96. Cochrane mencatat bahwa menurut pengajaran Reformed misteri kontinuitas gereja terdapat dalam pilihan dan panggilannya, di dalam dan oleh Yesus Kristus.
- Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.2.
- Tracts and Treaties 3.240. Salah satu traktat terpenting dan serupa isinya dengan “The Necessity of Reforming the Church,” “The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and of Reforming the Church” (1547), adalah penolakan Calvin terhadap “The Adultero- German Interim.”
- Ibid. 266.
- Tracts anda Treatises 1.259.
- Ibid. 214.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.35.
- Ibid. 37.
- Ibid. Bdk. Institutes IV.i.1.
- Ibid. 214
- Ibid. 215. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.5.
- “The True Method of Giving Peace” dalam Tracts and Treatises 3.242.
- Ibid. 52. Bdk. “Confession of Faith in the Name of the Reformed Churches of France” dalam Tracts and Treatises 2.150-152; Institutes IV.iii.6.
- Ibid. 54.
- Ibid. 174. Bdk. Institutes IV.iii.10-12.
- Ibid. 170. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.3.
- Ibid. 172.
- Ibid. 171.
- Institutes IV.ii.1-3.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.172. Bdk. Institutes IV.v.2. Pada zaman sebelum Calvin, pemerintah dan masyarakat memiliki kekuasaan dalam pengangkatan dan penolakan pejabat gerejawi.
- Ibid. 170.
- Ibid. 140.
- Ibid. 172. Bdk. 197, 198, 203, 204, 219; Institutes IV.v.1.
- Ibid. 170, 171, 204, 205. Bdk. “On Ceremonies and the Calling of the Ministers” dalam Calvin Ecclesiastical Advice (tr. Mary Beaty & Benjamin W. Farley; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1991) 90,91.
- Ibid. 174, 175.
- Ibid. 174. Bdk. Institutes IV.iii.16.
- Ibid. 173.
- Ibid. 38.
- Ibid. 37-39, 48, 49, 66. Calvin sering menyebut bapa-bapa gereja untuk menyangkal tuduhan bahwa pengajaran para Reformator itu adalah inovasi-inovasi dan merupakan sesuatu yang baru. Ia tidak hanya yakin bahwa bapa-bapa gereja ada di pihaknya, tetapi ia juga yakin bahwa mereka adalah oposisi bagi gereja Roma sekarang. Untuk studi yang lebih jelas mengenai Calvin dan bapa-bapa gereja, lihat Anthony N. S. Lane, John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999)
- Ibid. 49. Suatu pembelaan yang lebih singkat terhadap tuduhan skisma itu tetapi dalam konteks berbeda diberikan dalam “On Book One (of Pighius)” dalam The Bondage and Liberation of the Will: A Defense of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius (ed. A. N. S. Lane; tr. G. I. Davies; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996) 7-34. Karya itu (1543) adalah respons Calvin terhadap karya Albert Pighius, Ten Books on Human Free Choice and Divine Grace (1542), yang merupakan evaluasi atas Institutesnya Calvin (edisi 1539), khususnya bab 2 dan 8: “The Knowledge of Humanity and Free Choice,” dan “The Predestination and Providence of God” secara berturut-turut.
- Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.2.
- Tracts and Treatises, 1.59.
- Ibid. 60. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.9, 10.
- Ibid. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.10.
- Ibid. 67.
- Ibid. 63. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.5
- Ibid. 68.
- Tracts and Treatises 1.71.
- Ibid. 73. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.10; IV.viii.5.
- Ibid. 102. Bdk. Institutes IV.viii.7.
- Ibid.Bdk. G. C. Berkouwer, “Calvin and Rome” 185. Berkouwer menganggap pertanyaan mengenai otoritas gereja sebagai isu utama terhadap apa yang diarahkan Calvin dalam polemik-polemiknya.
- Ibid. 104.
- Ibid. 106. Bdk. Institutes IV.xii.5.
- Ibid. 108. Bdk. Institutes IV.viii.10,11;IV.ix.1-4. Dalam The Necessity of Reforming the Church and Canon and Decrees of the Council of Trent, with the Antidote, Calvin tidak melihat adanya pengharapan di dalam konsili yang bersidang atas inisiasi Paus. Dalam traktatnya yang pertama ia menyerukan kepada kaisar Charles V agar mengadakan konsili persidangan propinsi, yang memiliki preseden sejarah. “Sesering bidat-bidat baru muncul, ataupun gereja diganggu oleh beberapa perselisihan, bukankah merupakan suatu kebiasaan untuk segera mengadakan persidangan sinode secara propinsi, sehingga gangguan itu kemudian dapat diakhiri? Tidak pernah menjadi suatu kebiasaan untuk lagi-lagi mengadakan konsili umum sampai suatu cara lain telah diusahakan” (Tracts and Treatises 1.223). Di dalam pendahuluan antidotnya terhadap konsili Trent, Calvin memunculkan pertanyaan-pertanyaan serius mengenai persidangan dari konsili itu. Ia mengangkat pertanyaan mengenai masalah waktu, komposisi Trent, prosedur-prosedur, dan tujuannya. Menyadari bahwa Paus telah menentukan semua hal ini sebelumnya, Calvin membuang semua harapan akan adanya Reformasi di gereja Roma. “Apakah ini? Seluruh dunia mengharapkan adanya sebuah konsili di mana butir-butir yang bertentangan bisa tetap didiskusikan. Orang-orang ini mengakui bahwa mereka hadir tidak lain hanya untuk menghakimi apapun yang tidak sesuai dengan pikiran mereka. Dapatkah seseorang tetap sedemikian bodohnya dengan berpikir untuk mendapat bantuan atas kesusahan-kesusahan kita dari suatu konsili?” (Tracts and Treatises 3.39). Hal yang sama diungkapkan dalam artikel “If Christians Can be Given a Plan for a General Council” dalam Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Advice 46-48.
- Ibid. 110. Bdk. “Confession of Faith in the Name of the Reformed Churches of France” dalam Tracts and Treatises 2.150, 151; Institutes IV.vi.10.
- Bdk. Institutes IV.vi.4.
- Ibid. 111. Bdk. Institutes IV.vi.1, 3, 6
- Ibid. 112. Bdk. Institutes IV.ii.6;IV.iv.16, 17.
- Ibid. Bdk. “The Necessity” 218, di mana Calvin menentang keutamaan Paus berdasarkan pada pemikiran apakah gereja Roma adalah gereja sejati dan apakah Paus adalah uskup yang benar. Demi kepentingan argumentasi jika kita mengatakan “bahwa keutamaan itu adalah dicurahkan secara ilahi pada keuskupan Roma, dan telah didukung oleh persetujuan bersama dari gereja mula-mula; kendati demikian keutamaan ini hanya mungkin jika Roma memiliki gereja dan juga uskup yang sejati. Karena penghormatan terhadap kursi jabatan tersebut tidak bisa tetap bertahan setelah kursi jabatan itu tidak ada lagi.”
- Institutes IV.i.5.
- Ibid.IV.i.2. Bdk.”Cathechism of the Church of Geneva” (1541, 1545) dalam Tracts and Treatises 2.50, 51.
Sumber : Hidalgo B. Garcia
|Calvin dan Tuduhan Skisma Dari Katolik Roma Terhadap Para Reformator: Sebuah Studi Tentang Kesatuan Gereja ,SAAT Malang|
I. PENDAHULUAN & DEFINISI
1) Doktrin Providence of God / Providensia Allah ini adalah sesuatu yang sangat penting bagi kita.
- “Ignorance of Providence is the ultimate of all miseries; the highest blessedness lies in the knowledge of it” (= Ketidaktahuan tentang Providensia adalah asal mula semua kesengsaraan; berkat yang terbesar terletak dalam pengenalan tentang providensia) – ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, Book I, Chapter XVII, No 11.
- “Nothing is more profitable than the knowledge of this doctrine” (= Tidak ada yang lebih berguna dari pada pengenalan tentang doktrin ini) – ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, Book I, Chapter XVII, No 3.
Saya menuliskan hal ini pada bagian ‘Pendahuluan’ untuk memotivasi saudara mempelajari doktrin Providence of God ini. Tentang apa pentingnya / kegunaannya doktrin ini bagi kita, akan saya bahas di belakang (pelajaran VII).
Sekalipun doktrin Providence of God ini penting, tetapi doktrin ini tidak boleh diajarkan secara sembarangan kepada sembarang orang, karena:
a) Doktrin ini termasuk ‘makanan keras’ yang tidak cocok untuk bayi kristen, apalagi untuk orang yang belum sungguh-sungguh percaya kepada Kristus.
b) Doktrin ini bisa ditanggapi secara salah, khususnya kalau diajarkan kepada orang yang belum waktunya belajar doktrin ini. Ini saya bahas di belakang pada pelajaran VI, no 7.
Karena itu jangan menyebarkan ajaran ini / memberikan buku ini, kecuali kepada orang kristen yang sudah dewasa dalam iman, dan yang sudah mempelajari doktrin dasar Reformed yang lain, seperti Kedaulatan Allah, Predestinasi, dsb.
2) Siapa saja tokoh-tokoh yang mempercayai / mengajarkan doktrin Providence of God ini?
Doktrin ini dipercaya dan diajarkan oleh: Agustinus, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jerome Zanchius, John Owen, Charles Hodge, R. L. Dabney, Louis Berkhof, Loraine Boettner, William G. T. Shedd, Herman Hoeksema, Herman Bavinck, G. C. Berkouwer, B. B. Warfield, John Murray, Gresham Machen, William Hendriksen, Arthur W. Pink, dsb. Sepanjang pengetahuan saya, tidak ada satupun orang Reformed yang sejati yang tidak mempercayai doktrin ini. Juga doktrin ini masuk dalam Westminster Confession of Faith, yang merupakan pengakuan iman dari gereja-gereja Reformed / Presbyterian di Amerika.
Catatan: untuk membuktikan kata-kata saya ini, maka di bagian belakang / terakhir buku ini saya memberikan banyak kutipan, baik dari Westminster Confession of Faith maupun dari Calvin dan dari para ahli theologia Reformed.
Karena itu saya berpendapat bahwa:
- orang yang mengaku dirinya Reformed, tetapi tidak percaya pada doktrin ini, sebetulnya paling banter hanyalah orang yang Semi-Reformed!
- jika ada orang mengatakan bahwa ajaran ini adalah ajaran Hyper-Calvinisme, maka itu berarti orang itu tidak mengerti apa Calvinisme itu, atau lebih jelek lagi, orang itu adalah seorang pemfitnah!
B) Definisi ‘Providence’.
Kalau dilihat dalam kamus, maka ‘Providence’ berarti ‘pemeliharaan baik’. Tetapi dalam Theologia, ‘Providence’ berarti lebih dari sekedar ‘pemeliharaan baik’. ‘Providence’ adalah pelaksanaan yang tidak mungkin gagal dari Rencana Allah, atau, pemerintahan / pengaturan terhadap segala sesuatu sehingga Rencana Allah terlaksana.
Setidaknya itulah pandangan B. B. Warfield yang berkata:
“His works of providence are merely the execution of His all-embracing plan” (= PekerjaanNya dalam providensia semata-mata merupakan pelaksanaan dari rencanaNya yang mencakup segala sesuatu) – ‘Biblical and Theological Studies’, hal 281.
Jadi sekalipun Providence berbeda dengan Rencana Allah, tetapi keduanya berhubungan sangat erat.
G. C. Berkouwer kelihatannya memberikan definisi tentang ‘Providence’ yang agak berbeda ketika ia berkata:
“… the Heidelberg Catechism when it, in Lord’s Day 10, describes Providence as the almighty and omnipresent power of God by which He upholds and governs all things” (= … Katekismus Heidelberg pada waktu katekismus itu, pada Hari Tuhan ke 10, menggambarkan Providensia sebagai kuasa Allah yang maha kuasa dan maha ada dengan mana Ia menopang dan memerintah segala sesuatu) – ‘Studies In Dogmatics: The Providence of God’, hal 50.
Definisi dari G. C. Berkouwer ini mirip dengan definisi Calvin tentang ‘Providence’, karena Calvin berkata:
“… providence means not that by which God idly observes from heaven what takes place on earth, but that by which, as keeper of the keys, he governs all events” (= … providensia tidak berarti sesuatu dengan mana Allah dengan bermalas-malasan / tak berbuat apa-apa mengawasi dari surga apa yang terjadi di bumi, tetapi sesuatu dengan mana, seperti seorang penjaga kunci, Ia memerintah segala kejadian) – ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, Book I, Chapter XVI, no 4.
Sedangkan John Owen menganggap bahwa ‘Providence’ merupakan semua pekerjaan Allah di luar diriNya.
John Owen: “Providence is a word which, in its proper signification, may seem to comprehend all the actions of God that outwardly are of him, that have any respect unto his creatures, all his works that are not ad intra, essentially belonging unto the Deity” (= Providensia adalah suatu kata yang, dalam artinya yang benar, kelihatannya meliputi semua tindakan Allah yang ada di luar diriNya, yang berkenaan dengan ciptaanNya, semua pekerjaan-pekerjaanNya yang tidak termasuk ad intra, yang secara hakiki merupakan milik Allah) – ‘The Works of John Owen’, vol 10, hal 31.
Catatan: pekerjaan yang termasuk ad intra adalah pekerjaan-pekerjaan di dalam diri Allah Tritunggal, seperti ‘the eternal generation of the Son’ dan ‘the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit’.
Without a due sense of predestination, we shall lack the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation and dependence on God under every spiritual and temporal affliction. How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer!
(1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God.
(2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many and signal intimations of His love to me–both in a way of providence and grace.
(3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it.
(4) Whatever comes to pass in time, is the result of His will from everlasting, consequently
(5) my afflictions were a part of His original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight and measure.
(6) The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination. Hence
(7) my distresses are not the result of chance, accident or a fortuitous combination of circumstances, but
(8) the providential accomplishment of God’s purpose, and
(9) designed to answer some wise and gracious ends, nor
(10) shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees fit.
(11) He who brought me to it, has promised to support me under it, and to carry me through it.
(12) All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good, therefore
(13) “The cup which my heavenly Father has given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation. I will commit myself and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted; and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will.
I. The Doctrine of Perseverance stated:
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved (from the very moment of faith). They are kept in faith by the power of God and persevere to the end.
II. The doctrine proved from various arguments:
1. The nature of the life imparted at regeneration, which is incorruptible and cannot die:
a. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (I John 3:9)
b. “For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (I John 5:4)
2. The doctrine of election:
This doctrine does not teach that some may be saved, but that the entire number of the elect shall be saved finally. Through graciously bestowed influences of the Holy Spirit, the elect are led not only to trust Christ initially, but to persevere in faith and holiness unto the end and to be saved everlastingly.
3. The intercession of Christ:
“Christ makes intercession for His people, and we are told that the Father hears Him always. Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard. Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Romans 8:26.” – Boettner
a. “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
b. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 9:25)
4. The mystical union with Christ:
“This marvelous union is set forth by the figure of the head and the body: we are members of the body of Christ. Do the members of His body rot away? Is Christ amputated? Is He fitted with new limbs as old ones are lost? Nay, being members of this body, we shall not be divided from Him. ‘He that is joined unto the Lord,’ says the apostle, ‘is one spirit,’ and if we are made one spirit with Christ, that mysterious union does not allow of the supposition of a separation.” – Spurgeon
a. “Now you are the body of Christ and members individually.” (I Corinthians 12:27)
b. “He who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him.” (I Corinthians 6:17)
5. The doctrine of particular redemption:
This doctrine does not teach that Christ died only to make possible the salvation of sinners, but that His death actually purchased pardon for particular sinners (the elect). If Christ actually redeemed certain sinners from the curse of the law through payment of His own blood, it is unthinkable that any of those included in the purchase should perish. Is Christ to be disappointed by an unsatisfactory purchase? Is not His blood of sufficient worth to purchase for His people everlasting life?
a. “With His own blood He entered the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
b. “. . . Through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” (Hebrews 13:20)
6. The faithfulness of God:
“The faithfulness of God secures the final perseverance of the saints; God is faithful to His counsels, to His covenant, and to His promises concerning their salvation, and will never suffer His faithfulness to fail; which must fail if they perish. But God is faithful, who has called them by His grace, and will confirm them to the end; will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to bear; will establish them, and keep them from evil; and will preserve them blameless to the coming of Christ; faithful is He who has promised, who also will do it.” – John Gill
a. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
b. “Christ . . . will also confirm you to the end that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:8)
7. The attributes of God:
“The doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance is agreeable to, and become necessary by them [the attributes of God], and therefore must be true; but the contrary to it, that of the apostasy of real saints, so as to perish everlastingly, is repugnant to them, and reflects dishonour on them, and therefore must be false.” – John Gill
a. The immutability of God:
“The Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
b. The wisdom of God:
God abounds “toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8), but as John Gill writes, “Where would be His wisdom to appoint men to salvation (I Thess. 5:9), and not to save them at last?”
c. The power of God:
“Kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.” (I Peter 1:5)
d. The faithfulness of God:
(See #6 above.)
e. The veracity (truthfulness) of God:
“The doctrine of the saints falling from grace–a doctrine which is more dishonorable to Christ than I can tell you [sets] Him as a laughing-stock to the whole world, as one who begins to build and not able to finish, there is a blot upon His power; He loves and yet He loves not to the end, there is a blot upon His faithfulness; He says, ‘I give My sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand,’ yet they do perish, according to that doctrine, which is a stain upon His veracity. In fact, the doctrine of final falling, impugns the whole character of Christ so much, that it would render Him unworthy of our faith.” – Spurgeon
f. The goodness, grace and mercy of God:
“The Lord will complete that which concerns me.” (Psalm
g. The justice of God:
“Where could be His justice, to punish those for whose sins Christ has made satisfaction? It is not consistent with the justice of God to punish sin twice; once in the surety, and again in those He has redeemed.” – John Gill
8. The Offices of Christ:
“What kind of Head would He be, if any of the members of His mystical body could be torn from Him? What kind of Shepherd would He be, if any patient under His hand were at length found incurable? What kind of Husband would He be, if He and any soul once united to Him by faith were ever put asunder?” – J. C. Ryle
9. The work of the Holy Spirit in the heart:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
a. “He who has prepared us for this thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (II Corinthians 5:5)
b. “He who hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment.” (John 5:24)
10. From the assurance of salvation:
Boettner writes, “A consistent Arminian, with his doctrine of free will and of falling from grace, can never in this life be certain of his eternal salvation. He may, indeed, have the assurance of his present salvation, but he can only have a hope of his final salvation.” The Arminian’s assurance is no more than a partial one, but the scriptures teach that believers, in this life, can attain to a “full assurance” of salvation.
a. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” (John 3:36)
b. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 3:13)
11. The Lamb’s book of life:
“This is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased or diminished. The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world. God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out. Hence none of the Lord’s own ever perish. Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their were written in heaven; yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next.” – Boettner
a. “Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
b. “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:27)
12. Salvation and justification are of grace and not of works:
“If, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, my going to heaven is contingent upon my continued faithfulness and obedience (instead of my faithfulness being rendered out of love and gratitude because Christ has saved me); if through my failure to remain faithful and obedient I am eternally lost, then my salvation is made to depend upon my works, which flatly contradicts Titus 3:5 – “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” – A. W. Pink
a. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
b. “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:6)
“The gospel preaching is this: ‘Thou art a lost sinner, and thou canst deserve nothing of God but His displeasure; if thou art to be saved, it must be by an act of sovereign grace. God must freely extend the silver sceptre of His love to thee, for thou art a guilty wretch who deserves to be sent to the lowest hell. Thy best works are so full of sin that they can in no degree save thee; to the free mercy of God thou must owe all things.’” – Spurgeon
I. The doctrine of Irresistible Grace stated:
In addition to the outward general call to salvation made to everyone who hears the gospel (and which can be, and often is, rejected), the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that cannot be rejected. By means of this special effectual call, the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ; He is not limited by man’s own will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success.
II. The doctrine opened into its parts
A. The application of salvation is all of grace and is accomplished solely through the almighty power of God.
1. “But as many as received Him He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
2. “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16)
3. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth.” (James 1:18)
B. Sinners become the children of God through regeneration or the new birth. (As a child can do nothing to accomplish his own natural birth, but is entirely passive in the process, so men are not able to effect their own spiritual birth through their own efforts. Regeneration is the work of a God who is sovereign, He shows mercy on whom He pleases.)
1. “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the of God.” (John 3:3)
2. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)
C. Through the Spirit’s work, the sinner is given a new heart or nature and made to walk in God’s law. The sinner becomes a new creation in Christ.
1. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
2. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
D. The Spirit raises the sinner from his state of spiritual death and gives him life. (Sinners are not merely sick: they are DEAD in trespasses and sins. Can a person raise himself from the dead?)
1. “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” (John 5:21)
2. “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)
E. In addition to the outward general call to salvation made to everyone who hears the message, the Spirit extends to the elect a special call that cannot be rejected.
1. “Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
2. “All the Father gives Me will come to Me.” (John 6:37)
F. God makes known to His elect only the secrets of the kingdom of God through the personal inward revelation given by the Spirit.
1. “Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and he whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27)
2. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)
3. “No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” (John 6:65)
G. Faith and repentance are not acts that people can produce in themselves, but are divine gifts wrought in the soul through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
1. “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)
2. “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18)
3. “Now when Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)
4. “The Lord opened her [Lydia’s] heart to heed the things spoken of by Paul.” (Acts 16:14)
5. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
6. “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29)
7. “If God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” (II Timothy 2:25)
I. The doctrine of Limited Atonement stated:
Christ’s work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them.
II. The doctrine opened into its parts
A. Christ’s redeeming work actually secured salvationfor the elect.
1. Christ came, not to make people savable, but actually to save sinners.
a. “You will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
b. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
2. Christ, by His redeeming work, secured reconciliation for His people.
a. “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)
b. “You who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” (Colossians 1:21)
3. Christ secured the righteousness and pardon needed by His people for their justification.
a. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)
b. “With his own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
4. Christ secured our faith, repentance, regeneration, sanctification and the gift of the Spirit.
a. “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
b. “Him God exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)
c. “Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:3)
d. “Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30)
e. “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)
B. Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save only the elect.
1. Christ died to save all those given Him by His Father.
a. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” (John 6:39)
b. “You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” (John 17:2)
2. Christ laid down His life for His sheep. (Some people, the Bible states, are not His sheep.)
a. “I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)
b. “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:26-27)
3. Christ, in His high priestly prayer, prays not for the world, but for those given Him by the Father. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” (John 17:9)
4. Other references that show that Christ’s redeeming work was of a definite or particular nature.
a. Matthew 20:28
b. Matthew 26:28
c. Acts 20:28
d. Ephesians 5:25-27
e. Hebrews 9:28
The above passages clearly indicate that Christ’s redeeming work was of a PARTICULAR nature, that is, it was intended to save only the elect. What are we to understand, then, of those passages of a more general scope? How are they to be harmonized with the passages which, as we have seen, rule out as error the doctrine of universal or general redemption?
“There are two classes of texts that speak of Christ’s saving work in general terms: (a) Those containing the word ‘world’ – e.g. John 1:9, 29; 3:16-17; 4:42; II Corinthians 5:19; I John 2:1-2, 4:14 and (b) Those containing the word ‘all’ – e.g. Romans 5:18; II Corinthians 5:14-15; I Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 2:9; II Peter 3:9.
“One reason for the use of these expressions was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews alone. Such phrases as ‘the world,’ ‘all nations,’ and ‘every creature’ were used by the New Testament writers to emphatically correct this mistake. These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (i.e. – He died for Jews and Gentiles alike) but they are not intended to indicate that died for all men without exception (i.e. – He die not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner).” – Steele & Thomas
“Calvinists do not deny that mankind in general receive some important benefits from Christ’s atonement. Calvinists admit that it arrests the penalty which would have been inflicted upon the whole race because of Adam’s sin; that it forms a basis for the preaching of the Gospel and thus introduces many uplifting moral influences into the world and restrains many evil influences. Paul could say to the heathen people of Lystra that God ‘left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.’ (Acts 14:17) God makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Many temporal blessings are thus secured for all men, although these fall short of being sufficient to insure salvation.” – Boettner
I. The doctrine of Unconditional Election stated:
God chose certain individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world. His choice of particular sinners to be saved was based solely on His own purpose and desire, not being informed by a foreseen merit or response on the part of those selected.
II. The doctrine opened into its parts
A. Proof that God has an elect people, predestined to salvation.
1. “Blessed is the man whom You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts.” (Psalm 65:4)
2. “Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27)
3. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)
4. “The elect, whom He chose.” (Mark 13:20)
5. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son . . . Moreover whom He also predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
6. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord.” (Romans 16:14)
7. “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:9)
8. “They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation . . . .” (I Peter 2:8-9)
9. “Those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)
B. God’s choice was made before the foundation of the world.
1. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4)
2. “God from the beginning chose you for salvation, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” (II Thessalonians 2:13)
3. “God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (II Timothy 1:9)
C. God’s choice was not based upon any foreseen worthiness or merit in the chosen ones, nor was it based on any foreseen good works performed by them.
1. “(For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” (Romans 9:11-13)
2. “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16)
3. (See II Timothy 1:9 above.)
D. Good works are the result, not the basis, of election. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
E. God’s choice was not based upon foreseen faith. Faith is the result and evidence of God’s election,not the cause or basis of His choice.
1. “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)
2. “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29)
F. One evidences his calling and election by faith and good works. – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
G. God’s choice was based upon His own purpose and desire. It was God’s sovereign will and not man’s that determined which sinners would be shown mercy and saved.
1. “Is it not lawful for Me to do what I wish with My own things?” (Matthew 20:15)
2. “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise, grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise, work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:5-6)
3. (See especially Romans 9:11-24)