I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
In my opinion, this is the greatest proof-text against Calvinism, but not for the reason that you might immediately suspect. The concept is “what you received.” So what have we “received” from the apostles, that is, the inspired writings known as the Bible? Ponder the body of Scripture for a moment. While every Calvinist will immediately presume that Calvinism is essentially taught from Genesis to Revelation, we might also ponder how their teachings were passed along. Consider the apostles, and then consider Calvinists. One thing about Calvinists is that they are aggressive and dogmatic in their pursuit of Calvinizing Christians, also known by Calvinists as “Reformation.” Calvinists fervently spread Calvinism, and are often bitterly indignant when non-Calvinists reject their teachings. In a word, Calvinists, by and large, are obsessed with Calvinism. To a Calvinist, as will soon be shown, Calvinism is the Gospel itself. So is this obsession for Calvinism reflected in the body of Scripture? No? Why not? Why don’t we see aggressive Calvinism dogmatically outlined in the apostolic letters, with the same kind of pushy obsession that we find in the lives and writings of historical Calvinists? That’s a red flag. Paul states: “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3) To a Legalist, a performance-based religion is the mark of Christian growth. The reality, however, instead of that being the mark of growth, it is the mark of digression, since legalism unveils the absence of faith. Legalism is the sub-conscious attempt to battle insecurity, which faith, being absent, is unable to provide. The pet verse of every Legalist is James 2:26, which was actually in reference to the Abrahamic, non-meritorious work of faith. Abraham’s “work” that “perfected” his faith was that he stepped out in faith and “believed God.” (James 2:23-24)
John Calvin’s definition of The Gospel: “If we are not ashamed of the gospel, we must confess what is there plainly declared. God, by His eternal goodwill, which has no cause outside itself, destined those whom He pleased to salvation, rejecting the rest; those whom He dignified by gratuitous adoption He illumined by His Spirit, so that they receive the life offered in Christ, while others voluntarily disbelieve, so that they remain in darkness destitute of the light of faith.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.58, emphasis mine)
Sovereign Grace Church writes: “Must a person believe ‘the doctrine of election’ to be a Christian? The answer is yes, as surely as one must believe and accept God’s grace to be a Christian. To cut election away from grace is to have ‘grace’ which is no grace. To cut election away from the gospel is to have a ‘gospel’ that is no gospel, for a gospel without grace is another gospel from the Biblical message (Galatians 1:6-10).” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
Another Calvinist confidently stated: If you do not believe in Election, then I question your salvation.
To the Calvinist, the Gospel is Calvinism itself, which even Charles Spurgeon agreed:
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, stated: “And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.” (A Defense of Calvinism, emphasis mine)
To the Calvinist, faith in Christ is a human “work” that is added to the work of the divine Redeemer, and therefore since we are saved by grace, and not by human works, we cannot be saved by believing. However, the apostle Paul contradicts the Calvinist when he states: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) The real reason why Calvinists call Arminianism a heresy is because Arminianism contradicts their doctrine of Unconditional Election, which you heard Charles Spurgeon highlight in his explanation. Contrary to Charles Spurgeon, Calvinism is not about preaching Christ and His resurrection, as Spurgeon alleges, but about preaching a doctrine where God allegedly, unconditionally “destined those whom He pleased to salvation, rejecting the rest.” To the Arminian, Unconditional Election is a human philosophy foisted upon divine Scripture.
The point that is lost with Galatianist Calvinists is that faith in Christ is not a work of self-righteousness since faith in Christ is non-meritorious, being the anti-work of works. Citing John Calvin as a hostile witness:
John Calvin writes: “Now it may be asked how men receive the salvation offered to them by the hand of God? I reply, by faith. Hence he concludes that here is nothing of our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all praise, it follows that salvation is not of us. … When, on man’s side, he places the only way of receiving salvation in faith alone, he rejects all other means on which men are accustomed to rely. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.144, emphasis mine)
Faith does not affirm man’s righteousness. Rather, faith denies man’s righteousness so that he may be filled with God’s righteousness. This is why Romans 3:27 states concerning faith and boasting: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.” Therefore, a grace-alone salvation is indeed a faith-alone salvation.
Ultimately, since an in the Father Election doesn’t even exist apart from the basis of being in Christ (1st John 4:15), Galatianist Calvinists have invented a grace that doesn’t even exist, and have made it a condition for salvation. These same Galatianists wish to quote Ephesians 1:4, which instead affirms an in Christ election, such that the vital condition of Conditional Election is being in Christ.
A non-Galatianist Calvinist states: “People who make election a test of fellowship, or suggest that belief in election is necessary for salvation, introduce a new kind of ‘Galatianism’ into the church-- they add to the gospel an extra requirement to simple faith, and thus people like this are even-- dare I say it-- bordering on cultic for making some teaching of the Bible in addition to the gospel an acid test for true Christian belief.” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
While I disagree that Unconditional Election is a “teaching of the Bible,” I can nevertheless agree that the Galatianists are indeed bordering on being cultic for having added to the Gospel:
Galatianist, Sovereign Grace Church responds: “Separate ‘the doctrine of election’...from the gospel, and you accomplish nothing more than to demonstrate that you are wholly ignorant of both election and the gospel, and you condemn and shame yourself in a wicked act which makes a word game out of the salvation and love of Almighty God.” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
The Galatianist concludes: “If anyone reading this has used this argument, or has been under the influence of this devilish reasoning, I call upon you to throw yourself before God and plead for his mercy-- or you will eternally perish.” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
The Galatianist, Sovereign Grace Church writes: “Having established, as we have, that belief in the gospel and belief in the ‘doctrine of election’ can not be separated if we are going to define faith, the folly and arrogance of this point can be illustrated by substituting the word ‘gospel’ for ‘election’. Consider the following sentence: ‘Yes, the gospel is true, because everything in the Bible is true. It is not essential truth for salvation. It may take a true Christian years, or even a lifetime, to grow into an understanding of the gospel or its implications. Or, a Christian may never come to understand or believe the gospel. No matter, God will straighten them out when they get to heaven.’ A person who believes and teaches this wicked nonsense is ignorant of the gospel, and, if they do not repent of their sin against the grace and heart of God, will undoubtedly be among those who are ‘straightened out’ in the sense of Matthew 7:21-23. This is not a game. Those who defend the false gospel, while saying they themselves are ‘Reformed’, express a wickedness far in excess of the ranting of people more explicitly identified with the lie such ‘Reformed’ people endorse in their fine sounding arguments.” (Sovereign Grace, emphasis mine)
This guy is blowing smoke, just like the heated Baptismal Regenerationist who believes that unless you are baptized by an approved member of their denomination, you cannot be saved. Unconditional Election is not the Gospel, nor is Baptismal Regeneration. Stick with the real Gospel which is outlined in detail at 1st Corinthians chapter 15.
Hal Lindsey states: “Grace is all that God set Himself to give us on the basis of Jesus dying in our place and paying for our sins.” (Gospel of John, emphasis mine)
Contrary to what the Galatianist Calvinist says, suppose for a moment that Calvinism is not the Gospel. Suppose, instead, the Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, as per 1st Corinthians chapter 15, and that by believing in Him, there is life in His name. Therefore, to make Calvinism the Gospel, and to make it a test for Christian standing, would make Calvinism a false Gospel. Now consider what the Bible says that the Gospel is:
1st Corinthians 15:1-11: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
The Gospel according to Paul, for which he was an ambassador in chains: “Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised… He appeared…so we preach and so you believed.”
1st Corinthians 1:23: “But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.”
To Paul, “Christ crucified,” was synonymous with the Gospel he preached. In contrast, to John Calvin, Unconditional Election was synonymous with the Gospel.
1st Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
Jesus stated: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
While on trial, Paul, an ambassador of Christ in chains, in defense of the Gospel of Christ, asked King Agrippa: “‘King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.’ Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’ And Paul said, ‘I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.’” (Acts 26:27-29) Did Paul want to just persuade some people, or rather all people, that is, “all men” (1st Timothy 2:3-4), that Jesus loved them, that Jesus died for them, and that Jesus wants to save them? It is on this basis that I conclude that John Calvin was “not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:14)
2nd Corinthians 11:4: “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”
When the cults come to you with a “different Gospel,” other than the Gospel of the Bible, and you remain steadfast and firm in the truth of the Gospel, you bear this beautifully, with honor and distinction.
In summary, here is what the Galatianist Calvinists are doing:
Declare that salvation is by GRACE. Equate GRACE with all things Calvinism. Insist that Arminians rejected salvation because they have rejected GRACE.
It’s a shell game of equivocation that is played out as follows:
“Must a person believe ‘the doctrine of election’ to be a Christian? The answer is yes, as surely as one must believe and accept God’s grace to be a Christian. To cut election away from grace is to
have ‘grace’ which is no grace.”