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The Doctrine of Election    Listen to .mp3 propecy podcasts.

Lyn Mize

There are numerous Scriptures that address the doctrine of election, yet the doctrine is very unpopular in the Church, which is the body of Christ.  The largest or greatest division or split in the Church is along the line of this doctrine, and whole denominations line up against other denominations over their beliefs about this doctrine.  The doctrine of election was taught and believed long before John Calvin, but he enunciated the doctrine and brought great attention to it.  The doctrine of election has been reduced to an acronym called TULIP, and this acronym provides a brief synopsis of what has been called the Five Points of Calvinism.  The opposing viewpoint has been called the Five Points of Arminianism after Jacobus Arminius, the Dutch theologian.  Therefore, most, if not all Christians can be classified as Arminian or Calvinist.  Most have no idea what they are, but they can still be classified under one of these headings based on their beliefs.  

The following are some definitions out of the American Heritage Dictionary for the purpose of historical background:  

Arminius, Jacobus. 1560-1609. Dutch theologian and founder of Arminianism, which opposed the absolute predestinarianism of John Calvin and was influential throughout Europe.  

Ar·min·i·an. adj. Of or relating to the theology of Jacobus Arminius and his followers, who believed that predestination was conditioned by God's foreknowledge of human free choices. --Ar·min“i·an n. --Ar·min“i·an·ism n.  

Cal·vin, John. 1509-1564. French-born Swiss Protestant theologian who broke with the Roman Catholic Church (1533) and set forth the tenets of his theology, known today as Presbyterianism, in Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536).  

Cal·vin·ism. n. The religious doctrines of John Calvin, emphasizing the omnipotence of God and the salvation of the elect by God's grace alone. --Cal“vin·ist adj. &  n. --Cal”vin·is“tic adj. --Cal”vin·is“ti·cal·ly adv.  

It is important to note that both Calvinism and Arminianism teach predestination. Both teach predestination because the Bible emphatically states the predestination of Christians.  The person who states that he does not believe in predestination is revealing his lack of knowledge of the Bible, very likely his church’s profession of faith and theology in general.  Unfortunately, there are many Christians unknowledgeable about the Bible, and it is to their shame to remain this way.  God himself rebukes them for their lack of knowledge:  

(Hosea 4:6 KJV)  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  

It is important to note that it is God’s people who are destroyed.  The above verse is in reference to Israel, but it is applicable to the Church also.  The following Scripture confirms the same for the Church:  

(2 Tim 2:15 KJV)  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  

If we are to be approved by God in regard to our works, we must study the Bible and be able to understand it.  Please note that I said “in regard to our works” for we are all approved unto God in regard to our salvation by faith alone, but the approving of our works is an entirely different matter.  

Foreknowledge  

As noted above, the split among the denominations along the line of Calvinism versus Arminianism does not pertain to the belief or unbelief in predestination, but the reason for the predestination by God.  Basically, and very simplistically, the Arminian believes that God looked down the corridors of time and knew ahead of time who was going to believe in Jesus, and based on this knowledge, God chose or elected these people to salvation.  The Calvinist believes that God looked down the corridors of time, determined beforehand the ones that He loved, and elected them to salvation.  The following passage of Scripture establishes predestination without question:  

(Eph 1:1 KJV)  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

(Eph 1:2 KJV)  Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Eph 1:3 KJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

(Eph 1:4 KJV)  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:

(Eph 1:5 KJV)  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

(Eph 1:6 KJV)  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

(Eph 1:7 KJV)  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

(Eph 1:8 KJV)  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

(Eph 1:9 KJV)  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

(Eph 1:10 KJV)  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

(Eph 1:11 KJV)  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

(Eph 1:12 KJV)  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  

Two things should be very clear in the above passage of Scripture.  The first is that God chose us for salvation before the foundation of the world.  The second is that He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will—not ours.  It is stated three times in this brief passage that God chose us on account of His will and good pleasure and not ours.  In addition, the following verses expressly state that we are not saved by our own will or choice:  

(John 15:16 KJV)  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.  

(John 1:12 KJV)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

(John 1:13 KJV)  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  

(Rom 9:14 KJV)  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

(Rom 9:15 KJV)  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

(Rom 9:16 KJV)  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.  

As stated briefly already, the Arminian believes that God elected or chose Christians before the foundation of the world based on his foreknowledge of facts about Christians in the exercise of their will to believe in Jesus Christ.  The verses above discredit this common belief, but the following verses are the ones used by the Arminians to support this belief:  

(1 Pet 1:1 KJV)  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

(1 Pet 1:2 KJV)  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.  

(Rom 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

(Rom 8:29 KJV)  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.

(Rom 8:30 KJV)  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.  

The above passages simply state that God foreknew us as persons and elected us for salvation.  The election is based on knowing us and loving us, and not facts about us.  God chose to love us and save us in spite of our depravity, and not because he saw something good in us.  If God chose us because He saw us exercising our will to believe in Jesus, then we are not saved by grace and grace alone, but by the exercise of our will to believe in Jesus Christ.  This is totally contrary to all of the Scriptures on salvation by grace and grace alone.  The following Scripture confirms that it is grace that saves us, and even the faith is given to us to believe in Jesus:  

(Eph 2:5 KJV)  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

(Eph 2:6 KJV)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

(Eph 2:7 KJV)  That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

(Eph 2:8 KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

(Eph 2:9 KJV)  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  

Verse 5 above confirms that we were all spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, but God made us alive spiritually.  He revived us spiritually, raised us from spiritual death, and placed us in heaven in Christ Jesus.  Verse 7 declares that he did all of this to show the exceeding abundance of his grace and kindness in the ages to come.  Verse 8 sums it up by saying that we are saved by his grace through faith.  The last half of verse 8 emphatically states that the grace and the faith did not come from us.  It was a gift from God.  If the faith that saved us came from us, then our salvation would be of ourselves, and we would have something to boast about.  Of course, verse 9 demolishes this tenet.  The faith itself was God’s provision and not ours.  

The order of our spiritual rebirth and spirit salvation is as follows:  (1) God knew us and loved us before He created the earth.  (2) God chose or elected us to be saved at some point in time.  (3)  When that time came, He brought our dead spirits to life.  (4)  He gave us the faith to believe in Jesus Christ and his atoning work on Calvary.  (5)  We heard about Jesus dying for us, and we believed it.  The faith with which we believed came from God and not ourselves.  Consequently, the whole work of spirit salvation is of God.  

T U L I P  

Calvinism is best known by the acronym that highlights the five points of Calvinism.  It has been lightheartedly suggested that Arminianism has the daisy as its flower, since the daisy stands for He loves me.  He loves me not.  He loves me.  He loves me not.  The basis for this humor is that the Arminian believes a Christian can lose his spiritual salvation, be saved again, lose it again and be saved again.  This salvation has been likened to a revolving door salvation where the individual is saved, lost, saved, lost, saved, lost.  

Note:  I would like to preface this section on the five points of Calvinism with a brief statement of my beliefs about the five points of Calvinism and the five points of Arminianism.  Scripture teaches very clearly that man is a tripartite being consisting of spirit, soul, and body.  Both Calvinists and Arminians incorrectly teach the spirit and soul are synonymous in the Scriptures.  Consequently, there is violent disagreement and animosity between Calvinists and Arminians, and the arguments have gone on for centuries with no resolution in sight.  The resolution is really very simple for those who are open to the truths of Scripture.  The Calvinists are partially correct in that all five points of Calvinism are true and accurate in regard to the spirit of man. Conversely, the Arminians are partially correct in that all five points of Arminianism are true and accurate in regard to the soul of man.  Consequently, I believe the five points of Calvinism in regard to the spirit of man and spiritual rebirth, but I believe a slightly modified version of the five points of Arminianism in regard to the soul of man.  

This section is not intended to be an exhaustive argument for the truths of the five points of Calvinism.  It is only a brief outline and explanation of the five points, and what they entail.  For a detailed and exhaustive study of the five points of Calvinism, please read the book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Lorraine Boettner.  This book is the classic on predestination, and it presents one of the best arguments in print for the truths of all five points.  This book should be read by anyone who doubts the eternal security of the believer’s spirit salvation.  

The acronym TULIP stands for (1) Total Depravity or Inability, (2) Unconditional Election, (3) Limited Atonement, (4) Irresistible Grace, and (5) Perseverance of the Saints.  The one that most Christians have difficulty believing is Limited Atonement, and the one that most Christians misunderstand—even Calvinists—is Perseverance of the Saints.  These will be explained in more detail in the explanation of each one.  

Point One—Total Depravity or Inability  

Total depravity or inability states that man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sin, and is totally incapable of exercising his free will to believe in Christ.  Arminianism states that the fall of man was not total, but that there is enough good left in man to will to believe on Jesus Christ unto salvation.  The dividing issue between Calvinism and Arminianism on this point is the bondage versus the freedom of the will to believe in Christ.  The Arminian states that man’s will is free to choose either the Word of God or the word of Satan.  This makes spirit salvation dependent upon man’s work of faith.  

The Calvinist states that unregenerate man is in absolute bondage to Satan and is completely unable to exercise his free will to believe in Christ.  Salvation is, therefore, dependent upon God to regenerate man spiritually before he can believe in Christ.  The Scriptures are clear that man’s will is in bondage prior to spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  The new birth experience is entirely dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit, and the will of man plays no part in this spiritual birth.  Jesus compared spiritual regeneration to the physical birth of a child to make a strong point that man plays no more part in his spiritual birth than he does in his physical birth.  No where in the Scriptures is anyone ever exhorted to “get born again”.  Following is the passage that addresses spiritual birth.  Jesus Himself describes the new birth experience as something that happens to a person by the will of God:  

(John 3:1 KJV)  There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

(John 3:2 KJV)  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

(John 3:3 KJV)  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 3:4 KJV)  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

(John 3:5 KJV)  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(John 3:6 KJV)  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(John 3:7 KJV)  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

(John 3:8 KJV)  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  

The above is a detailed, complex and comprehensive passage of scripture describing spiritual birth as a prerequisite for comprehending the kingdom of God (vs. 3).  The passage also details in verse 5 the additional requirement that a person must be “born of water” in order to enter into the kingdom of God.  Entering the kingdom pertains to soul salvation, and is not the same as spiritual rebirth.  Of course, spiritual rebirth must occur first, and the additional requirement of “born of water” refers to the sanctification process described in the following passage:  

(Eph 5:25 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

(Eph 5:26 KJV)  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

(Eph 5:27 KJV)  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  

Nicodemus asked Jesus about this spiritual rebirth in verse 4, and Jesus answers his question in verses 6-8.  In verse 6 Jesus compares spiritual rebirth to physical birth to emphasize the total inability of man to have anything to do with this rebirth.  Then in verse 7 Jesus tells Nicodemus not to wonder about it since it is something that comes from above, meaning it is something that God does.  Literally, this verse states “Do not wonder that I said to you that you must be born from above.  Jesus continues his explanation in verse 8 by comparing the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth experience with the wind.  The Greek word pneuma is the same word for wind and spirit.  Literally, pneuma means wind, and figuratively, it means spirit.  Literally, Jesus states that the wind blows wherever, and goes wherever it wants to, and we can only hear the sound or the effect of the wind.  He then states that it is the same with everyone who is regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  Figuratively, the first half of this verse states, “The Holy Spirit breathes life into whomever he desires, and the result is faith through hearing, but we cannot tell to whom it goes, or to whom it influences.

The following are some additional Scriptures that address the Total Inability of man to come to Christ without spiritual rebirth via the Holy Spirit:

(John 6:44 KJV)  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.

(Rom 5:6 KJV)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

(Rom 8:7 KJV)  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

(Eph 2:1 KJV)  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:

(Eph 2:5 KJV)  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

(Titus 3:5 KJV)  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

(Phil 2:13 KJV)  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

(Col 1:13 KJV)  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  

Point 2—Unconditional Election  

The U in TULIP stands for unconditional election.  The Baptist Confession of faith of 1689 states it in terms almost identical to the Westminster Confession (Presbyterian) and the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, as well as the Heidelberg and Belgic Confessions and the Canons of Dort:  

“Those of mankind who are predestinated unto Life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable Purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ to everlasting glory, out of His will, hath chosen in Christ to everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.”  

We have already seen that the Arminian view is that foreknowledge is based upon the positive act of man’s as the condition or cause that moved God to elect him to salvation.  All of the great confessions of faith state that election is unconditional, and this means that the foreknowledge of God is strictly based upon God’s decree, plan or purpose and His will rather than man’s will.  The Scriptures confirm this as follows:  

(Rom 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

(Rom 8:29 KJV)  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.

(Rom 9:11 KJV)  (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;)  

(1 Cor 1:26 KJV)  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

(1 Cor 1:27 KJV)  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

(1 Cor 1:28 KJV)  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

(1 Cor 1:29 KJV)  That no flesh should glory in his presence.  

The following Scripture confirms that God chose his people Israel because he loved them:  

(Deu 7:6-8 KJV)  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. {7} The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: {8} But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  

If election were determined based on a foreseen act of man’s will to choose Christ, then it would be the wise men of the world, and the noble, who would be better able to make a decision to believe in Christ.  Of course, this is not the case as God chooses or elects the ones that He wants to after His own purpose and will, and not man’s will or purpose.  

We repeat the following Scriptures for emphasis:  

(John 1:12 KJV)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

(John 1:13 KJV)  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  

(John 15:16 KJV)  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.  

There are too many Scriptures that confirm that election is based on God’s choice and not man’s choice, but following are some of the clearest:  

(John 6:37 KJV)  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.  

Based on the Arminian position of election, the above Scripture would have to state:  

The Father giveth to me all that shall come to me, and him that cometh to me and stayeth with me I will in no wise cast out.  

(2 Tim 1:9 KJV)  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,  

(John 5:21 KJV)  For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.  

The doctrine of election is unpopular in the Church today, and it was unpopular when Jesus taught it also.  When Jesus had finished his discourse on the fact that He is the “Bread come down from heaven”, he said:  

(John 6:65 KJV)  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 6:66 KJV)  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.  

When Jesus told his disciples that election is based on the will of God and not the will of man, many ceased to follow Him.  Jesus deprived them of their ego-inflating notion that election is based on some condition of good that existed in them.  

Point 3—Limited Atonement  

Limited Atonement is the point in the Five Points of Calvinism that gives most Christians trouble.  Christians who state that they are Four Pointers are leaving this one out.  The truth is that all five points either stand or fall together and not one of the points can be removed without affecting the others.  For example, if one believes Unconditional Election, then it naturally follows that Christ died for the Elect.  If He has not chosen them for salvation, then He did not die for them.  The following Scriptures are the ones that Arminians use in their attempts to rebut this point and the point on Unconditional Election.  

(2 Pet 3:8 KJV)  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

(2 Pet 3:9 KJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  

This verse is incorrectly understood as referring to every person in the whole world, but it has to be removed from its context and severely twisted to arrive at this conclusion.  Please note that Peter is writing to the following:  

(2 Pet 1:1 KJV)  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:  

He confirms that in verse 8 above be calling them “beloved”.  He then states that the Lord is “longsuffering to usward”.  Thus, the Lord is longsuffering to Christians, not willing that any Christian perish, but that all Christians come to repentance.  Peter is addressing Christians in regard to soul salvation, and not the world in regard to spirit salvation.  Soul salvation is conditional upon repentance and baptism.  Consequently, he correctly writes to Christians and not the unregenerate.  God spiritually regenerates the ones He has elected, and then calls them to repentance.  Not all Christians will come to repentance in this life, but God prefers that they do come to repentance so they will not lose their rewards in the lake of fire.  

The following is also taken to mean that Jesus died for the whole world:  

(John 3:14 KJV)  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

(John 3:15 KJV)  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

(John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  

The above verse is probably the most misunderstood verse in the whole Bible.  It took me a long time before I was able to comprehend its meaning because of my own paradigms or mental sets that came to me from hearing numerous preachers and teachers misinterpret this passage.  

It is important to note that the serpent was placed up for the elect Jews in the wilderness.  In the same manner, Jesus died for the elect, and the elect are revealed when they believe in Jesus Christ.  The Greek word translated world is kosmos and it means an organization or group of people identified in the passage, so the “whosoever believeth in him” is the organization or group of people that John is referring to in the passage.  Thus, the kosmos refers to believers. The perishing pertains to the soul or life of man and not his spirit. God loved the Church and gave his Son for it so that all believers could realize soul salvation, which is everlasting life. Christians should not perish, but they might perish at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is the reason for the conditional phrase “should not perish”. Christians should not perish, but they might. The translators of the New International Version (NIV) have corrupted the translation of this verse to say that believers “shall not perish” as shown below:  

(John 3:16 NIV)  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  

The great Greek scholar Joseph H. Thayer confirms that kosmos is referring to believers in the above passage and not to every person in the world.  A student must always look at the context to determine the identity of those who make up the kosmos since kosmos can refer to any particular group of people or organization.  It is important to note that the base word for kosmos is komizo, and it means ones provided for, cared for, and kept from harm.  Jesus died for the elect, so that if they identified with His death on the cross, they would not perish in the lake of fire.  

It is very important to understand the whole analogy of Moses and the serpent.  The Jews in the wilderness were already the elect and the people of God.  They had already come out of Egypt and been baptized into the Red Sea.  They were now perishing in the wilderness.  The provision to keep them from perishing was the golden serpent on the pole.  That was a type of Jesus Christ who took upon Himself our sins.  Gold is deity, and the serpent was cursed just as Jesus was cursed upon the cross.  

In order for the Christian to keep from perishing in the lake of fire, he must identify with Jesus on the cross.  He must keep looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Please note that the Jews in the wilderness could be bitten by the serpents more than once, and Satan and his emissaries can attack us numerous times.  Each time we must identify with the cross and die to the old flesh nature and allow Christ to live His life in us.  

It is important that the whole passage is speaking of perishing, and it is the soul that perishes.  

The following verse also confirms that kosmos is referring to the elect:  

(Mat 5:14 KJV)  Ye are the light of the world (kosmos). A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

(Mat 5:15 KJV)  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

(Mat 5:16 KJV)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  

This passage is for the faithful to be a light unto those believers who are unfaithful.  The “light is unto all that are in the house” (i.e., the elect).  It is important to note that the result of giving light is glorification of the Father and not salvation.

(1 John 4:10 KJV)  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  

John is writing to believers, and he states that God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (i.e., the sins of the elect). The following Scripture confirms that Christ died for “many” and not all. He died for all the elect but not every single person on the earth.  

(Heb 9:28 KJV)  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The following Scripture confirms that “many” are called and not everyone is called to salvation.  

(Mat 20:16 KJV)  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.  

The following is a passage of Scripture that Arminians use as a prooftext that God wants everyone to be saved:  

(1 Tim 2:1 KJV)  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

(1 Tim 2:2 KJV)  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

(1 Tim 2:3 KJV)  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

(1 Tim 2:4 KJV)  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

(1 Tim 2:5 KJV)  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

(1 Tim 2:6 KJV)  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

(1 Tim 2:7 KJV)  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.  

Paul is writing to Timothy in this epistle and in verse 1:12 Paul states that Jesus put him in the ministry to demonstrate God’s longsuffering (i.e., patience) for Christians. Paul was a minister to the Gentiles, and in verse 2:1 above, he exhorts Timothy to pray “for all men”. The Greek word for “all” in this verse is pas and it means collectively some of all types. Paul is telling Timothy not to just pray for the Jewish brethren, but to also pray for all kinds of Gentiles. Paul follows through with this exhortation by saying that it is good and acceptable to pray for Gentiles as well as Jews, since God will have all kinds of men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Paul then states that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and men, and Jesus gave himself a ransom for all kinds of men—not just Jews. Paul confirms that he is referring to the salvation of the Gentiles as well as the Jews in verse 7, when he says that Jesus giving himself as a ransom for all kinds of men is the reason that Paul was ordained a minister (i.e., teacher) to the Gentiles.

The primary message in this passage is that God will have all kinds of Gentiles to be saved, in addition to Jews. This is finally confirmed in Revelation when the Church is around the throne in heaven, and the Church consists of men from every tribe and tongue among all kinds of Gentiles on the earth. God has elected for salvation some Gentiles from every tribe and tongue throughout the whole world.  

The use of the Greek word pas to refer collectively to all kinds is frequently used in the Scriptures. The following is just one example where it means all kinds of Jews. This verse means that God will save Jews from every tribe of Israel. When Jesus sets his feet down on the Mount of Olives, millions of Jews from every tribe of Israel will be saved. We know that two-thirds of them will perish in the conflagration. We know that not every Jew will be saved at the end, but God will save a remnant with some from all tribes. The same is true for all kinds of Gentiles.  

(Rom 11:26 KJV)  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives the definition of pas as follows:  

3956  pas-  

1) individually:

each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

2) collectively:

some of all types    

Point 4—Irresistible or Efficacious  

The Westminster Confession states the doctrine of irresistible or efficacious grace as follows:  

“All those whom God has predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.”  

“This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it.”

The Baptist confession of faith, The 1689—A Faith to Confess states this point in almost identical words.  

To put the above statement in layman’s terms, everyone that God chose for salvation before the foundation of the world is going to be born-again spiritually.  No ones spirit salvation rests upon my faithfulness or any other Christian’s faithfulness.  The spirit salvation of each and every Christian rests solely upon the faithfulness of God.  No one is going to hell if I do not witness to that person.  If I do not witness to someone to whom God has called me to witness, then God will get someone else to do it, and I will lose my reward because of my unfaithfulness.  

The Arminian believes that the will of God can be frustrated by the will of finite man on an individual basis.  The Arminian states that man’s work of faith comes before God’s gift of spirit life.  The Calvinist states that God’s gift of spirit life comes before man’s response of faith in Jesus Christ.  

(John 6:37 KJV)  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

(John 6:38 KJV)  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

(John 6:39 KJV)  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.

(John 6:40 KJV)  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.  

Verse 37 above establishes efficacious grace, and the second part of this compound sentence establishes the fifth point, which is perseverance of the saints.  

Even though verse 37 above establishes the certainty of spirit salvation and the eternal security of that salvation, verses 39 and 40 raise a question about the certainty of eternal life (i.e, everlasting life).  Jesus very clearly states that it is the will or desire of the Father that all those who come to Jesus and who will not be cast out should not be lost.  In verse 40 Jesus states that those who “seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life,” and this will be the same person that will be exalted at the last day.  “Seeth” means to perceive, experience or acknowledge, and these are the ones who are born spiritually.  “Believeth on him” means to entrust one’s spiritual well-being unto Christ.  Everyone who comes to Jesus will not be cast out.  That means they will be in heaven.  However, for one to realize eternal or everlasting life requires the additional criterion that one must entrust his spiritual well-being unto Christ.  

Every one of the elect will come to Jesus and will be in heaven, but many will be lost in regard to their soul salvation.  Eternal life pertains to soul salvation and not spirit salvation.  This is the reason the conditional words “should” and “may” are used in verses 39 and 40.  God prefers that they remain faithful unto eternal life and rewards, but they may not.  They may suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  

Irresistible grace does not mean that God forcefully goes against man’s desire in causing him to do something he does not want to do.  The regenerated living spirit of man finds God “irresistible” so he comes to Christ openly and freely.  It is the gift of the new spirit nature that makes Christians find Jesus Christ irresistible.  

Point 5—Perseverance of the Saints  

The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is stated in the Westminster Confession as follows:  They whom God accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall sway from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”  

This doctrine has been called the doctrine of eternal security, and it has been shortened to the phrase “Once saved, always saved.”  The doctrine does not stand alone, but it is a necessary part of Calvinism.  The other points of Calvinism called Unconditional Election and Irrisistible Grace imply that those who receive these blessings will certainly continue as saved people, but this point states it directly.  That is why the five points of Calvinism have been compared to a glove with five fingers, which merge into the portion that covers the hand.  Each finger is an integral part of the glove, and cannot be removed without destroying the glove.  A person who states that he is a three point or a four point Calvinist reveals his ignorance of the points that he professes to believe, for they all stand or fall together.  For example, many Christians state that they believe four of the points, but they do not believe Limited Atonement.  If a person believes Unconditional Election, then a logical outcome of this point is that Christ died for all of those elected, and not the rest.  In addition, if a person has been elected to be saved, then he will certainly persevere in his salvation.  Otherwise, he would not been among those unconditionally elected.  

Unfortunately, many Calvinists incorrectly think that Perseverance of the Saints pertains to perseverance in doing good works.  The perseverance of the Christian does not depend upon his good works, but upon God’s Grace.  Works—either before or after the new birth experience—are not a condition for salvation, so the failure to do good works, or to continue in good works has no effect upon a person’s spirit salvation.  The truth is that many Christians will get to the Judgment Seat of Christ with no good works to their credit.  These Christians are the ones saved in accordance with the following Scripture:  

(1 Cor 3:10 KJV)  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

(1 Cor 3:11 KJV)  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

(1 Cor 3:12 KJV)  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

(1 Cor 3:13 KJV)  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

(1 Cor 3:14 KJV)  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

(1 Cor 3:15 KJV)  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  

Verse 15 above confirms that all of a Christian’s works can be burned, and he will still be saved spiritually.  The failure of numerous Calvinists to separate spirit and soul salvations is the reason for misunderstanding the doctrine of perseverance.  The primary difference between spirit salvation and soul salvation can be simply stated as follows:  Spirit salvation and entrance into heaven is by grace, but soul salvation and entrance into the kingdom of heaven is by works.  

The Arminian looks at all of the Scriptures that address the destruction or perishing of Christians, and he erroneously assumes that these Christians have lost their spirit salvation.  The truth is that the souls of many Christians will perish in the Lake of Fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but they themselves will still be saved “yet so as by fire.”  The burning of a “man’s work” in verse 15 above is the burning or loss of his soul.  The soul is his life and what kind of person he was as a Christian.  Consequently, the Doctrine of Perseverance of Saints applies to the spirit of man and not the soul.  A person who is born-again spiritually will most certainly continue in being spiritually alive, and he will most certainly enter into heaven.  This is guaranteed, even if this person’s life (i.e., his soul) has been a total waste lived in riotous living and sin.  His work (i.e., his soul) will perish at the Judgment Seat of Christ, “but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”  

The following Scripture confirms the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints:  

(John 6:37 KJV)  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.  

This verse confirms both Unconditional Election and Perseverance of the Saints.  It is also in relation to spirit salvation, but the following verses in the same context address the salvation of the soul and state as follows:

(John 6:38 KJV)  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

(John 6:39 KJV)  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.

(John 6:40 KJV)  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.

It is important to note how verse 37 expresses certainty (i.e., will in no wise cast out), but verses 39-40 changes to the conditional or uncertain words “should lose nothing” and “should raise it up again”.  The difference between the certainty of verse 37 and the uncertainty of verses 38-40 is the difference between spirit salvation and soul salvation.  The translators of the New International Version of the Bible recognized this difference, so instead of seeking to understand the real meaning of the passage, they mistranslated verses 39 and 40 as follows:  

(John 6:37 NIV)  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

(John 6:38 NIV)  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

(John 6:39 NIV)  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

(John 6:40 NIV)  For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."  

This is clear evidence that the NIV is a corrupted translation and should not be used for in depth Bible study.  The NIV was translated from the Nestle text, and the following is the American Standard 1901 translation of this same passage from the Nestle text:  

(John 6:37 ASV)  All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

(John 6:38 ASV)  For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

(John 6:39 ASV)  And this is the will of him that sent me, that of all that which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

(John 6:40 ASV)  For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  

Eternal life pertains to the soul of man, and it is conditional.  “Will raise him up” pertains to the body, and its redemption is certain.  “Will in no wise cast out” pertains to the spirit of man, and it is certain.  This is exactly as the KJV and the ASV translate this passage of Scripture.  Spirit salvation is certain and cannot be lost.  Soul salvation is conditional upon works, and it can be lost at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Eternal life pertains to the salvation of the soul, so it is conditional.  The definition of eternal life is given in the Bible in the following verse:  

(Rom 2:3 KJV)  And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

(Rom 2:4 KJV)  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

(Rom 2:5 KJV)  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

(Rom 2:6 KJV)  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

(Rom 2:7 KJV)  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

(Rom 2:8 KJV)  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

(Rom 2:9 KJV)  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

(Rom 2:10 KJV)  But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

(Rom 2:11 KJV)  For there is no respect of persons with God.  

The above passage of Scripture is addressing the Judgment Seat of Christ (vs. 3), which is a judgment of works (vs. 6), and it pertains to a Christian who seeks after glory, honor, and immortality of the soul, which is the definition of eternal life (vs. 7).  Verse 10 confirms that glory, honor, and peace (i.e., the peace of God as opposed to peace with God) comes as a result of works.  There are many other passages that confirm that eternal life pertains to the soul, but this passage is the best.  Spirit salvation cannot be lost, but soul salvation (i.e., eternal life) can be lost.  A better translation of eternal life is the literal translation of “Age life” or “life for the ages.”  The life or soul that passes through the Judgment Seat of Christ without being burned will continue throughout the ages.  It is both immortal (i.e., continues forever) and it will receive honor and glory as the just recompense of reward.  Many Christians are liars, thieves, murderers, drunkards, homosexuals, gossips, and hypocrites, and they live their lives with the old flesh nature in control.  The souls of these Christians will perish at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so they are not immortal, and they will receive no honor and glory in the kingdom.  

Please read my article To Perish or not to Perish for an in-depth look at the difference between spirit and soul salvation.