Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Appendix A – Reformed and Dispensational Theology
Lesson 163 – Reformed Theology; Points of T-U-L-I-P
18 Jan 2001
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Romans 8:32 is another one of the promise we’ve been going over, just to review some of the great passages of Scripture that can be used in those times of need. This is a wonderful verse; when we read through it, we want to remember the faith-rest drill that we’ve been going through. You grab a fragment of Scripture, a verse, a promise, and then develop a rationale around it. The second step of developing a rationale around the verse could be looked upon as your own private prayer meeting of the soul. And step three is that you are able to trust it.
Romans 8:32 is one of Paul’s great promises directed to believers. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” There’s a whole bunch of promises in here. Verse 32 is kind of a nice one to remember; “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” is an argument that goes from the greater to the lesser. Notice that.
Paul uses that kind of logic, from the greater to the lesser. The greater thing is, “What is the greatest thing God has done for you and for any other believer, and that is saving you through the Lord Jesus Christ?” So the logic is eloquently simple in verse 32, it says if He didn’t spare His Son, i.e., He “delivered Him up for us all,” that’s salvation, if that’s what He did for us, “how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” That’s the lesser. It’s easier for God to give blessing on the basis of the salvation, than it is to provide the salvation in the first place.
So Romans 8:32 is a classic promise, it’s one of those wonderful sections, and behind that promise, of course, going from the argument of the greater to the lesser, stands a whole theology of the Scriptures. I’ve put the chart up that I use from time to time to show the biblical position on how we know, a much unappreciated thing.
Unbelievers will laugh at Christians and say oh, you just believe as though that’s something stupid to do. There’s an attitude abroad that faith is a synonym for weak knowledge. You have to be careful because we tend to do that personally in our own lives, where we say if you had to choose between “I know” something is true and you change that in your phraseology to “I believe” something is true. Nine times out of ten what is that doing to certainty? It’s dropping it. And that’s the connotation, and you’ve got to be careful of that connotation because that carries over into the use of faith and believe and it’s false. As far as the Bible is concerned faith is not weak knowledge.
All men know God exists, so it’s not oh I guess I believe he might exist. That’s not what the Scripture is saying. That is not the text of Scripture; it doesn’t come from the Scriptures. The Scriptures say all men know God exists. So that’s certain. What is faith? Faith is a moral and ethical issue of whether I bow my knee to the God I know.
That’s where faith comes in. Do I really trust Him to be for me? That’s where it comes in. A machine doesn’t trust, so you don’t trust a machine, you trust a person. The object of the trust is a person in Scripture. And the person here is God. So I trust God to be there for me. That is, He’s going to bless me or save me.
If you think back through to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were busy hiding in the bushes, were they trusting? Let’s do a thought experiment. Go back to the Garden and think of that story again. We go back to this thousands of times, but this is the way you want to train yourself to think. Imagine yourself in the Garden, and imagine talking to Adam and Eve at the point where they are in the bushes, hiding from God. Would it be true or false to say they don’t know God exists? Obviously they do know God exists. How do you know if Adam and Eve told you in response to your query and they said oh we’re not sure He really exists, what would be your counter argument? Why are you hiding? The very act of hiding shows you yes, you do know He exists. That story is important because that’s Romans 1 in a nutshell.
What does it say in Romans 1? “They hold the truth in unrighteousness.” What does it mean to hold the truth in unrighteousness? That means we know it. This “we can’t know whether God exists” is just a bunch of bologna and hot air; it doesn’t mean a thing, it doesn’t mean a particle, it’s totally false.
What happens is that people come to believe they don’t know; there’s a suppression that’s going on far deeper than anything Sigmund Freud ever thought about. That suppression is the problem, and it’s a moral and spiritual issue; it’s not an intellectual problem, ultimately. It becomes an intellectual problem because when it gets going it sucks in everything and then people really get deceived and confused, so intellectual deception does play a role. But at the root it’s not an intellectual problem.
Verse 32 is directed to faith, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” What verse 32 is promising us is God is for us, He’s not beating us up. And standing behind that with powerful support to my trust in God is this picture of knowledge. You never get this in school, probably because 9 out of 10 of the people in school frankly haven’t thought about it themselves. We lost something when we went to secular education because of this. But in the Bible there is the Creator and creature. And we always think, no matter what the territory is, you can’t go wrong, you may forget stuff, you may think gee, where is that in the Scripture, don’t sweat it. Just remember, you can always get back home if you think of Creator/creature distinction.
Here’s the Creator; here’s the creature. What does the Creator … a preexisting thought, language and meaning, He has an eternal plan for creation and salvation. That’s the root of it all. It’s HIS plan that HE thought about; it’s not from a super computer, it’s not some tablet of destinies floating in the universe, this is God’s eternal plan of the Creator.
Once you assume this, see this is the moral problem, here comes the moral/spiritual problem. To be consistent, if I accept this, then that turns all of my knowledge into a certain kind of knowledge. If I believe that God is preexisting, He has a preexisting plan, what about my plans, what about your plans, what about your thoughts? They’re all derivative and they’re all to be calibrated by His thoughts.
His thoughts are the standard, the reference point. So it makes our thoughts not only finite and limited, it means our thoughts are basically uncalibrated floating things that have to be anchored in His thoughts. So that’s why in Scripture we say, the expression, biblical Christianity over the centuries is thinking God’s thoughts after Him. That means we don’t invent truth, we discover truth; we discover His truth. All that stands behind promises like Romans 8:28 and 8:32 that we’ve looked at.
If you look at the notes, primarily tonight we are going to go through these notes and then I’m going to try to illustrate it from texts of Scripture. To review, Appendix A we said that the first half of this series of notes, page 1 is the Reformed Theology, and page 9 is Dispensational Theology. We’re still on the Reform section. We’re trying to be careful here. Reform Theology is a tremendous advance in church history.
It really is, and I’m trying to be very delicate about my criticisms because we have much, much, much to be thankful for from those Reformers. Those guys put their lives on the line, subsequent scholars put their lives on the line, many of them lost their lives defending these ideas. And had they not done that, we today wouldn’t be sitting here.
They saved the church on the human level; they saved the church from total dissolution. I firmly believe that had the Reformation not happened Islam would have taken over Europe. The point is that they stopped the line, they halted that advance intellectually. If Islam hadn’t taken over Europe secularism, the Renaissance would have.
The thing to remember, because most of us have come up through public schools, what was the name you learned in school, what did the teachers tell you was the label historically that should be put on this section of time, prior to the Reformation? The Dark Ages.
What was the title and the name that you learned that was supposed to be when the Dark Ages ended? It begins with “R” and it’s not Reformation. The Renaissance.
And after that they also threw in another cute one, the Enlightenment. Do you see what I’m saying? Right there you’ve got a bias and it sneaks up on you because you had to learn it well enough to pass your test, so it’s ingrained in your soul, so you’re thinking in terms of Dark Ages and Enlightenment.
So every time you think of that portion of history what are you thinking about? Stupid and enlightened. What was the Dark Ages? When the only structure was the church that was the Dark Ages. Then the Enlightenment comes and we break away and go back to Aristotle; that’s the Enlightenment, we get back to the classics. That’s paganism.
So here we are, brought up in all our history courses, in every school I’ve ever been in, we label paganism the Enlightenment and we label the time when the Christians were running in Europe at least trying to do some things, by the way, Roman Catholicism did do some things during that period of time, Aquinas wasn’t exactly stupid. The church worked, who was building the hospitals, who was taking care of the sick people? It wasn’t Aristotle, it wasn’t the secularists, it was the Christians. So that’s the Dark Ages.
Now come the Reformers, and they open up the Scriptures, they’re trying to purge the church. The Reformation wasn’t to be a Reformation of society, it wasn’t to be a Reformation of the Vandals, a Reformation of paganism, the Reformation has to do with something internal; let judgment begin in the house of the Lord. So it was a going back, and they did a lot of good things.
Our criticism, however, on page 2 is that they, particularly their followers—usually it’s not the person that starts a movement—it’s the immediate disciples that ruin it. One of the strengths of Reformed Theology, and this is why it’s coming back today in evangelical circles, it’s the last time in the church that anybody can remember that some of these people thought systematically.
In a chaotic age like we live in there are lots of Christians out there trying to get this stuff together in their head because they’re getting hit from too many different things. First we’ve got an issue here, and now we’ve got something going here, now something here, and hey, whoa, hold it, I’ve got to have a structure to deal with all this. Reformed Theology offers a very coherent tight logical structure.
But that unfortunately becomes its weakness because what happened was that the structure we’re talking about was devised under attack by Rome in the counter-reformation, they were trying to defend themselves, and they devised this fortress. The problem with the fortress is that they tried to freeze what was known of Scripture in that century, in those centuries.
So that’s why I call it “The Structure ‘Freezes’” and it freezes in the form of creeds. With all due respect to the Reformers, in 200 years they could not sort out eschatology. They didn’t even try; they kept Roman Catholic theology. On pages 2–3 we covered three issues: infant baptism, it was never challenged by the Reformation, the only people that did anything about that were the Anabaptists.
The second trend was the belief that the church (top of page 3) the “government sponsorship of one church within a jurisdiction.” Luther, Lutheranism, Germany, Calvin, Zwingli; reformed thought, Switzerland. So you have these jurisdictions and it’s broken down in far more complex form than that. But those were the things where there’s no Reformation; no Reformation, the Catholic Church was the only structure in certain precincts.
There was no Reformation on infant baptism, no Reformation on the nature of the church versus the state, and there was no Reformation in the area of eschatology, just to cite some, the major ones. With all due respect, the Reformed theologians did advance. The weakness: they froze it and didn’t permit any further advance.
On page 4 we come to the content of the structure, that fortress they erected and in fighting among themselves to get a rationally coherent theology they came up with five basic beliefs which in history go down as TULIP. You’ll hear about this and we’re going to go over it. There’s a lot of truth in these TULIP truths. It’s not quite as simple as we like to make it out to be sometimes.
Prefacing what I’m saying about these five points, think of it this way. Much of what is in each one of these points is in Scripture. The problem is that they put together the system, and they see and link together these things out of Scripture in such a way that the linkage itself becomes a dogma. Let me show you how.
Let’s take the first one in TULIP. T stands for Total depravity of man. There’s a common misunderstanding right up front so let me warn you about it. This has nothing to do with the Reformation versus Dispensationalism. This is just learning proper vocabulary.
When this word “total” is used in the word “total depravity,” beware of how you understand “total.” Total means comprehensive; what it means is that every area is infected with sin. That’s what it means. It’s saying that man spiritually is totally pathological from the top of his head to the sole of his feet. I didn’t say from his neck down. That was one of the weaknesses in medieval theology, because Aquinas and others tended to stress the fact that the human intellect had a lot of power by itself unaided by the grace of God. This led to a scholasticism where trust was put in reasoning.
It still is perpetuated to our own day when you hear things like in the Ashcroft hearings. Can you put aside your beliefs and enforce the law? No one can put aside his beliefs, for to put aside one’s belief in order to do something, means I’ve replaced it with another belief.
It’s like flypaper. Imagine a piece of flypaper on the floor, it’s stuck to the bottom your foot, you’re not going to reach down, you think you’re going to be cute and so you’re going to step on the flypaper with your other foot and pull this one up. Now what have you done? Put the flypaper on the other foot. You still have a belief, it never leaves you. So that’s just a bunch of bologna.
I was hoping someone would say to Senator Kennedy, well sir, would the honorable Senator from Massachusetts tell us how as a Roman Catholic he could sets aside his beliefs in order to favor abortion. You know, if you want to talk about belief, let’s widen the discussion a little and see where this one goes. Oh no, we don’t want to do that one.
Belief is unavoidable, and it’s contaminated. Total depravity is trying to say something good. There’s Scripture that says “there is none that seek God.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “We are dead in our trespasses and sin.” That’s what this thing is trying to summarize, and historically what it’s trying to do, it’s trying to destroy the idea that the human intellect is capable of coming to God autonomously apart from God calling him. So far everything is cool. Now if you’ll follow the paragraph, watch what happens.
“This doctrinal formulation is an attempt to spell out the effects of the fall on every member of the human race.” So far, so good. “The word ‘total’ refers not to the depth of depravity (which differs from person to person)” and in area of your life to area of your life “but to the comprehensive character of the depravity, i.e., that it affects every area of the soul in such a way that no one can come to God without God taking the first step.”
What happened in the Garden of Eden? Who spoke first? God spoke first, that’s the idea. “In order to make salvation wholly of God’s initiating grace and to exclude all human merit, Reformed Theology makes this expression to assert that no one can believe unless they are first regenerated.” Oops! Now we’ve got a problem.
Reformed Theology carries this out under the idea that they understand it so completely that they can come back into the text and where it says “ye must be born again,” argue that you have to be born again before you can believe. What this leads to is regeneration precedes faith.
Immediately we’ve got a problem with the text here. Where does it say in Scripture be born again and then believe? A man is always called, everywhere you go in Scripture, I mean there’s preaching, there’s calling. Of course, the Reformed theologians will say yes, but that’s the means through which regeneration happens.
But the point I’m saying is that when you set this thing up, this is an extrapolation of an idea rather than actually inductively being built out of passages of Scripture.
Follow the text in that paragraph to make sure we’ve covered it all. “This use of regeneration to stand for all of God’s pre-salvation calling is done for theological consistency with other Reformed doctrines rather than being the conclusion of detailed exegesis of the biblical text. A question arises whether protection of God’s initiating grace and elimination of human merit can be done in a fashion that respects textual details more than imposing this meaning upon the term regeneration.”
In other words, it was a good thing here to try to eliminate human ethical merit, brownie points with God. That’s a good idea, very Scriptural. But we get uncomfortable when we push things out and we start using terms like this, so regeneration means the calling of God, this or that of God, the evangelistic process of God and all the rest of it. We don’t think that the text shows regeneration to refer to that.
“U: Unconditional Election.” Here’s another one that we can’t quibble with in a certain way, unconditional election. It’s rightly stating something, but then it kind of does things to it. Let’s follow through. “By unconditional election Reformed Theology means that God’s choice of who is elected and who isn’t is not determined by anything outside of God.” Do we agree with this?
Who is the Creator? What do we always do, go back to the Creator/creature. Who was existing from all eternity—the Creator or the creature? The Creator. Did God decide then, when He decided to create, was it His decision or was it the creation’s decision? It was the Creator’s decision.
Was there any creature around to arm-twist and say, “God, you’ve got to do it this way, you’ve got to do it that way, etc.?” Was that around? No. So is creation wholly of God? Yes. Well if you hold to creation as wholly of God then everything else follows, that God decided, without coercion, with nobody around, Tri-unity by itself, before creation. So we would agree with that, but now again let’s watch what happens. Who is elected, who isn’t?
“It is not controlled by the relative merit of men or their foreseen positive response to the gospel offer.” A lot of times in our own circles people say election is that God foresees who will believe and who won’t. Turn to Matthew 11. I appreciate that, I thought that way for a long time until I started studying the text a little bit more carefully.
What do you do with Matthew 11:21? “Woe to you, Chorazin!” This is the Lord Jesus Christ reproaching the cities that had rejected the gospel. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you.”
The point to think about in verse 21 is the Lord Jesus Christ is saying had more revelation been given to Tyre and Sidon they would have repented. Who controlled the level of revelation? God did. So God is saying here, the Lord Jesus Christ is God. He’s saying that there are variable levels of revelational pressure through history, I know who’s going to believe and who doesn’t, and I made the decision that I’m not going to give these people any more revelation and so they’re not going to believe. And had I made the decision to give them more revelation they would have believed.
The big point here is not to get wrapped around the axle here, there’s nothing unfair about it if you back off. If you start to feel tension about this being unfair, you’ve gone down a wrong road, back up a minute. Come back up to Creator/creature distinction again and think about the Creator creating and ordaining a kind of history.
Think of Him saying to Himself, I’m going to create a history in which there is a Satan, because remember Satan is created. Let’s forget about man a minute, let’s just talk about angels now. I’m going to make a universe in which there’s a Satan who is going to rebel against Me. Now is that God’s decision? He’s the top decider. That’s all we’re defending here.
Unconditional election means unconditioned by anything outside of God. So far fine, but let’s read further. “In other words, God is Himself not ‘conditioned’ by something outside of Himself.” By the way, that’s a very comforting thought because if He’s conditioned by something outside of Himself how is He perfectly trustable? You’ve lost your platform.
“He is absolutely free to do whatsoever He wills” and underline the rest of the sentence, because I warn you that every once in a while this one gets all wrapped around an axle, there’s another problem right here which I have a footnote for, “He is absolutely free to do whatsoever He wills that is compatible with His nature.”
If you go down to the footnote, and read the fine print, “Note the phrase “that is compatible with His nature.” Critics of Christianity, particularly of Protestant Calvinism, sometimes have the mistaken notion that the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty implies that He can do anything, whether rationally or ethically absurd or not.
“This error attributes ‘voluntarism’ to God (the idea that he can choose to do anything, regardless of His nature).” That’s the source of these facetious things; well God could make two equal six if He wanted to. In one sense He could by re-labeling numbers, but the idea is that God is a numerical character, He’s three in one. He can’t make Himself into two and one, that’s the way He is, so He’s not going to make Himself into two and one. He’s three and one and He’s always going to be three and one, and He’s not going to change from three and one. He doesn’t change His nature. Remember one of the attributes, “He is the same yesterday, today and forever.” What’s that? Immutability.
So God isn’t going to change His nature. That means that there’s stability and we don’t have absurdities. That’s the basis of reason, by the way. By the way, that’s the ONLY basis for reason and rationality is that God is rational. And if you don’t have God as the root of your rationality, then I challenge you to show me where you are standing, show me a platform on which you’re thinking.
Where’s your reason coming from? What ultimately you’re going to do is you’re going to back up and back up and back up until finally you’re going to admit that the only basis for your reason is your opinion. And by the way, that’s where we are getting in post-modernism, so watch it. He is absolutely free to do whatsoever is compatible with His nature, and thank Him because that again is a source of our trust and our adoration of Him.
“Viewed one way this doctrine simply asserts the Creator/creature distinction that is in danger of being lost in discussions involving creature free will.” In other words, when we talk about responsibility and free will, we want to talk about that but we want to talk about it such that this is always preserved, that the creature part never becomes the Creator. And there’s no problem with that.
Now here’s the downer, here’s where you have to be careful. “Viewed another way it gets involved in the details of the divine decrees (the supralapsarian-infralapsarian discussion).” If you wonder what that big word is, you can take the word apart and guess what it means. What’s “lapse?” If something lapses, it’s the fall. “Supra” means above, “infra” means below. So above the fall means prior to the fall, and infralapsarian means after the fall, subsequent to, after the fall.
What do you think that refers to? That was an argument internal to the Calvinist camp where they imagined that God had a series of decrees, and there were two words, supralapsarian and infralapsarian refer to when in the sequence of these decrees God decreed to save man. Did He decree to save man prior to the fall?
The fall happened, etc. or did He in His mind let all men fall and then after the fall decree who was to be saved and who wasn’t, that is, drawing the boundaries of [can’t understand word], etc. That was a big fight inside Calvinism. The problem with that kind of a debate is we’re trying to imagine what goes on in God’s mind in eternity past and we and we can’t even imagine what goes on in His mind any time, other than what He’s told us in Scripture.
So this gets into hairy stuff. But this is the kind of stuff that was put in creeds. That’s what I mean by the Reformation getting all into this heavy stuff, locking it up in concrete so nobody else could change it for the rest of the duration of the Church Age. Here’s an example of it right here.
“Again, the issue arises over how much emphasis is upon filling in details of a theological system vis-à-vis researching contextual meaning in the biblical text. The doctrine of election is discussed in Chapter 2 of Part III of this series.” We dealt with it in Abraham. If you want to see how I dealt with it you can go back and see. Those evenings you thought we were wasting time going through this point, why did he have to put that point in there, now you see why. When you read back there and you see how careful I was about how I taught the call of Abraham, and election, etc. In fact you can even see some infralapsarianism in what I said.
“L: Limited Atonement.” We’ve already gone through that, I had a special appendix on that one. We were saying there were certain things that we knew and then we kind of backed off when you get into all the little details because they’re very difficult to conceptualize. Let’s look at this: “By articulating the limited atonement, Reformed Theology tries to protect.” See, in every one of these cases they’re trying to do a good thing, they are “trying to protect the work of Christ on the Cross from being wasted” in other words, their idea is if you have an unlimited atonement, Christ has done all this work, the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, whereas the First Person of the Trinity has elected people, why should He make salvation apply to everybody when He’s only going to save these people over here? Why shouldn’t He just make the atonement line up, why aren’t the Second and First Person talking to each other here?
So, limited atonement is seen to be in Reform Theology an outworking of the doctrine of election. They say that otherwise what you’ve got is you’ve got Christ dying for all these people that finally go to hell and that atoning work is just wasted. Or worse than that, it’s offered to the creature and the creature, by his sheer free will, has designed history so he goes to hell anyway, like he’s on an equal plain here, and then we’ve breached the Creator/creature distinction.
Following through that sentence, “Reformed Theology tries to protect the work of Christ on the Cross from being wasted on those who reject it and from being contingent upon human response. More than the other points in TULIP, however, this point most clearly alters the contextual meaning of specific biblical references.”
Remember the discussions we had? What was the one biblical reference, there were many, but what was the one that really sticks in your craw if you have this limited atonement? The one passage that is the hardest passage in all the Bible for a limited atonement person to deal with? 1 John 2:2.
Here’s another example at the rush to put something in a creed before you’ve had a few centuries to think about it. This is an example that you get caught in this system and then you wind up doing handstands when you’re trying to exegete the text. I’m not arguing that the inherent structure here, all these things are Scriptural in their broad motivation, it’s just when you get into the details things begin to get screwy.
If you were a person that believes in limited atonement, how are you going to deal with 1 John 2:2? There are ways of dealing with it. What do you think would be some of them? “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” How do you think a heavy limited atonement person is going to deal with that? They do deal with it, but they’ve got only certain half-ways they can use to deal with this verse.
[Someone answers: the whole world would be all the nations] Yeah, and it’s looking only at those who are going to believe, the elect will be called out of all the nations. But see, once you make cosmos to be that sense and it’s not just all the nations, it’s only the elect in all the nations, it’s the world of the elect, what this does …
We could do a Bible study on the word “cosmos.” Look it up in a concordance, check it out, does this make sense, when you look it up and look at all the different uses of this word. This is an example of what I’m talking about, how the system kind of runs up against the text.
“I: Irresistible Grace.” Again, this means God’s call is going to be effectual. Was His call effectual to Adam and Eve? Yes it was. Is God going to work about in history and say I plead with you … watch this one because this happens in evangelism.
This harps back to the opposite of Calvinism which is Arminianism and it affects the way you evangelize: oh would you please trust in Jesus, He died for you, would you please trust in Him? See what’s going on here, it’s an impotent appeal with the idea that gee, you may thwart the plan of God. Obviously you can plead with people because you care for them; I’m not talking about that kind of a motive. What I’m talking about here is the idea oh won’t you please believe in Jesus in the sense that if you don’t Jesus gets hurt, or the atonement gets reduced. It trivializes the power of the gospel, because the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament authors have a picture of the gospel as softening hearts and hardening hearts.
What did God do to Pharaoh? Did He come to Pharaoh and say oh please Pharaoh, would you please believe on Me? The Bible says Pharaoh rejected and so God gave him more revelation, gave him more revelation. What did he do? He hardened his heart, He hardened his heart, hardened his heart. Well, gee, that wasn’t nice to do. What does it say, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy and I will damn who I will damn.” That doesn’t ignore the issue of belief and responsibility but it’s not God pleading with Pharaoh and please help Him on the universe.
I think you see that the motive behind irresistible grace was again to have a lofty heavy theological picture of who God is—He’s not some little impotent wimp. This is why Reform Theology, when it’s hated, it’s usually hated out of the satanic motive by the world. This is why the world always hates the Puritans. The world doesn’t know enough theologically to deal with what we’re talking about tonight. What we’re talking about is in the club, but when you hear people knock the Puritans and you hear people ridicule and this kind of thing, that’s just a hatred for the big God these people have.
If there’s anything they can’t stand it’s the God of Christianity. Isn’t this amazing? Why does Islam hate it? Why are they chopping Christians’ heads off? Christians aren’t armed, they’re not shooting them. The Muslims are not in any physical danger. Why are they exercising violence against the Christians for; the Christians don’t even have any weapons. Why the violence? Because they fear the gospel, the message that the Christian God has visited this planet and He is going to damn people who reject His Son, and He will have the last word, period, no matter who you are, high person, low person. It doesn’t make any difference. He has the last word. That offends, and that brings out a satanic spirit of rebellion, a hatred and an animosity that leads to violence against Christians.
“The doctrine of the irresistibleness of grace is the logical extension of unconditional election. Works that God has chosen to occur will certainly come to pass. Grace extended to sinners who are the elect ones, therefore, cannot be successfully rejected.” This is Reformed Theology.
Now we have to watch, just like we had to watch the word “total” depravity. “By the term “irresistible” is not meant a steamroller effect; it means that the grace is never permanently rejected.” So there’s a connotation to this irresistible grace. You’ve got to watch it; don’t criticize it unless you know what you’re talking about here. It’s grace that’s never resisted. That’s what they mean by irresistible.
Ultimately it prevails and it’s not a picture that I’m standing in the street and a steamroller rolls over me. That’s not what they mean. “This doctrinal formulation is a reaction to Arminian emphasis upon man’s apparent capacity to disobey, block, and thwart God’s directly revealed will.” Can man block and thwart? Yeah, for a while, but not permanently.
We’re not going to argue that because Judas Iscariot decided he needed some money, by the way, Judas Iscariot …, I had to laugh at this, I don’t really mean this because there are some wonderful accountants and one’s right here so I have to be careful. But it’s interesting because in the business world we sometimes knock the “bean counters.” We have a weird expression the “bean counters.” Do you know who the bean counter of the disciples was? Judas Iscariot, he was the guy that kept all the books.
And the point is here that if Judas Iscariot in Arminian position, his plot to [blank spot] … how does the church when they’re praying about Peter going to jail, what do they say, that these guys are stopping the gospel or what? Remember the church’s prayer in Acts 4, they say all they’re doing is exactly what You want them to do, in all their animosity and wrath, they’re fulfilling Your will, praise God. That’s aggravating because it reminds us that the guy who has the final say still has the final say no matter what I do. He always wins. That’s right! Heads He wins, tails we lose, when we want to defy Him.
Irresistible grace was a reaction to this Arminian emphasis. “Of course, in the end God’s total will is never thwarted. Yet it often in Scripture …” and this is what you have to be careful about, and this is why we get uncomfortable with the way that irresistible grace is phrased in certain creeds, “… often in Scripture it involves ‘three-steps-forward-and-two-steps-backward.’ ” You’ve seen that, what was the conquest? Did Israel make it the first time? No. They got defeated, blocked, but that itself was a lesson to teach people to depend on the Lord.
So a whole generation goes by, now they try another maneuver and they get in this time. They get into the land, what happens to the nation Israel? It falls apart. Was it falling apart because the Assyrians invaded? No, it fell apart first and then the Assyrians invaded. So you have the prophets of the Old Testament and they struggle with this: how can you do this to us God, You are sovereign, and You let these enemies come in, You destroy our country and all the rest, and the prophets say hey, whoa. It wasn’t military power that led to defeat; it was your spiritual wickedness that led to your defeat.
So the “three-steps-forward-and-two-steps-backward” is something you see again and again in Scripture. You see hypothetical options. Check on that hypothetical options in the plan of God, some Reform people I’ve known just about gag, but I’m sorry, I still talk about hypothetical options. Do you want some of them? How about Exodus 32? God says to Moses hey, these people are screwing up around here, how about we cut a deal Moses, I’ll knock them all off and we’ll start a new nation with you.
Now if God had really done that we’d have a problem with the fulfillment of prophecy, wouldn’t we, because Moses was of the tribe of Levi and what was Messiah supposed to come out of? The tribe of Judah. But yet you have a conversation between God and Moses, and He says, “I’m ready to knock off all this nation. We’re going to start with you Moses, all over again.” What was that? Was that theater or was that a real threat?
What about in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus says all I have to do is call My Father and we’ll have legions of angels here, right now. Was that theater or was that a real threat? Was Jesus just talking through His hat or was that a real option? And was the result of His decision to trust the Father with Himself on the cross, was that real? You bet it was real.
And the hypothetical option of those legions of angels ready to come in, ready to pull a rescue, all that was a real option, and it would have altered history totally from what we know it. So what are these? See, it’s that sort of stuff that you see in the text of Scripture if you pay attention to the text and stop reading a theological system into the text.
Let’s go to the last one. I think you can begin to see some of these are still with us, even in our own circles—people whom you know who wouldn’t think of being Reformed, it’s of the elect. We both know this doctrine, the “P” doctrine under another name, the doctrine of eternal security, once saved, always saved. But Reformed Theology did more to it.
There’s more to it involved and this particular part of Reformed thought is very critical to understand what is meant by f-a-i-t-h. This is a point where you have to put your thinking cap on and watch it, because the word “faith” is going to be loaded with some connotations here, and you may disagree with this. You want to watch what the Reformed camp does with the f-a-i-t-h.
“P: Perseverance of the Elect. This Reformed doctrine can be understood several ways, depending upon how one reads the phrase. It could mean that the elect persevere in obedient faith without serious lapses from which they fail to recover before their death.” Let’s go through that sentence, it’s packed. “It could mean,” perseverance, that you are a believer and if you are a REAL believer, then you will persevere to the end of your life, you won’t go down in disobedience.
That’s an idea, perseverance of the elect, that’s what it means, persevering faith, faith that perseveres to the end. Can you guess what nice quote they use? In the Gospel Jesus said of those in the Tribulation, those who persevere to the end are saved. Ooh, what are you going to do about that one? You’ve got to interpret it in context, so we’re going to do it. That’s an eschatological passage, and Jesus meant what He said.
The problem is you’ve got to understand what the word s-a-v-e-d means there in that context. Again, that’s one way of taking it. Now let’s go to another way.
“It could also mean that the elect persevere in a saved status in spite of unrecoverable lapses due only to God’s faithfulness to bless and to chasten.” Frankly I’m more comfortable with the second statement than I am first one. The issue isn’t that I’m persevering; the issue is that God’s persevering.
And it’s ironic, this point with all the heavy emphasis on the sovereign power of God we wind up in this fifth point that it’s the elect that are doing the persevering. Now I understand, there were answers to that, their understanding is that in their terms this word “faith” means the manifestation … what did we say you had to have before you could believe? Regeneration. If you’re truly regenerated, from the time you are saved until the time you die, you may have little humps and bumps but you’re going to wind up okay. That’s the idea of perseverance.
If there’s one thing that cuts across the grain of all of this and upsets anyone who believes this, for in a superficial way they’re right, it’s true that what God begins He finishes. So what they’re trying to do is argue for eternal security in the sense of protecting again the idea if God starts to do something He finishes it. He doesn’t leave it half done, He doesn’t get it blocked by man, etc. In that we agree.
That’s a godly motive, that what God starts He finishes. The problem is, we have to be careful by looking at the text what the individual lives look like in the text.
According to the historical Old Testament passages, did Solomon go out of this life on a happy state? No! Gosh, I wonder if Solomon were a believer? Maybe he wasn’t regenerated, he didn’t have persevering faith. What about the person in the Corinthian church that took communion and dropped dead? What about those in Corinth that are called carnal? Oh you don’t understand, says the Reformed person. That’s referring there to people who might not be elect that are in the congregation. You’ve got to be sure they’re saved, you’ve got to keep preaching the gospel to them every time because they might not be saved yet. You see what happens here.
Follow again the text, “This second meaning would include the idea of loss of rewards after death due to disobedience. The former meaning …” that’s the first one, you might want to put a number one around that first sentence, where “it could mean the elect persevere in obedient faith,” and put a number two in front of “it could also mean that the elect persevere in a saved status” and that way you’ll see the two statements.
“The former meaning,” i.e., the number one meaning, “is one that was emphasized strongly in later Reformed Theology such as that of the Puritans and by lordship salvation advocates today who follow the Puritans on this point. It entails concepts of false and saving faith whereby assurance of saving faith” now watch this, another important point that follows immediately from that statement you just put a circle on one.
Watch this because this comes out of that statement, “assurance of saving faith is contingent upon continual fruit in the life. Faith and assurance are separated in this view to ‘protect’ against licentious living so that the Protestant and Catholic views of faith ironically wind up as strikingly similar.”
In other words, what did we say that Luther and Calvin believed about faith? Faith they defined to be assurance. Imagine Luther, anybody that knows Luther’s biography, here he was, he needed certainty that he was saved or he would never have had the courage to go out and take on the world. He was acting off a platform of assurance, assurance started his path—it wasn’t the result of his wonderful life.
So assurance and faith in Reformed Theology are separated. Assurance is something that is derivative, you have assurance afterwards, you’ve got to keep looking to make sure that the fruit is there … The problem with that is how do you get the fruit if you don’t have assurance that you’re accepted with God? If I have a life-dominating problem I need assurance on moral power, I need a sense of God’s presence to get me out of the hole. I don’t climb up the ladder, get out of the hole and say whew, boy, that shows you I have what it takes.
I think you can see from what we’ve gone through this TULIP thing that there’s a lot of stuff embedded in this theology, and you’ve got to watch it. You can use Bible words, you can use verses of Scripture, and it’s really greasy, so it behooves us to pay close attention.
Let’s continue up and we’ll finish up with the paragraph we’re on, “Not only that, but this separation of faith and assurance mirrors even more ironically the Arminian notion of faith!” because what does Arminianism believe? That you can have it and lose it. Think about it.
Here’s a guy, watch how they both come out with the same analysis. Let’s take Solomon or somebody like Solomon. They show what we’ll call faith, they show faith, they show faith, then, oops, they show disobedience. Now along come two analysts. One is a Calvinist and the other is Arminian. What is the Calvinist’s interpretation of what’s going on here? He never was a believer in the first place. What’s the Arminian analyst say? He had it, too bad, he lost it.
As we will see, there is another way of handling that, a third way. The third way is that Solomon was like the nation. He was elect, he was a genuine believer, he got out of it, he disobeyed God, and God clobbered him, took him home prematurely, gave him discipline in his life. The author of Hebrews says if you disobey and be without chastisement you are a bastard, you’re not saved. So the idea there is that … you can interpret this a number of different ways, but it gets back to your overall approach.
Finishing up this section, “This understanding of perseverance tends to see New Testament admonitions as being directed to churchgoers who remain unbelievers. The first meaning of the doctrine of perseverance characterized the original Reformers.” I should say the second meaning of the doctrine or repentance, I rephrased it. “Calvin, for example, did not separate faith from assurance; in his view they were identical. Because one has assurance of his salvation, one can walk by faith.”
Look at that statement, how do you walk by faith if you don’t have assurance? Come on, you’ve got to have it in order to walk by faith. “The danger of licentious living is controlled in this view by divine chastening and the future judgment of the believer.”
We haven’t even got into the future judgment of the believer and the removal of rewards. You set your own eternal status. That’s something else that Reformed Theology doesn’t like to think about; it’s really sobering to understand that if I sit here and waste my life I mark myself for eternity. I build my eternal destiny in one sense as a child of God; if I screw up, then I’ve lost opportunities to be productive.
So not holding to Reformed theology doesn’t mean that you’re opening the gospel up to loose living, which apparently they always think this. “It relies upon the perseverance of God instead of that of the believer. This view tends to understand …” by the way, this controls your interpretation of a lot of New Testament passages. “This view tends to understand New Testament admonitions as being directed to believers who are in danger of divine chastening and loss of rewards.”
How would a Calvinist, Reformed person, understand, just abstractly now, not dealing with a specific text, but what would be the trend in a Reformed person if they see a warning passage in the Scripture, and it’s addressed in the epistles. Well, that must be that Paul or the author is … he wants to make sure everybody is saved in the congregation by threatening them … threatening them? That means the threat is sort of an evangelism inside the house. That characterizes a lot of Bible interpretations so you have to be careful. That’s the kind of thing I want you to think about when we come in, as we will, into Pentecost, separation of Israel and the church, and these things where we go into these passages; you’ll have this background now to help you understand this.
Next week we’re going to deal with the organizing principle of the covenant, that’s a big word in most Reformed people. You’ll see that name “Covenant” in a lot of their ministries, and it’s there for a purpose, because they believe in one theological covenant. One basic covenant, the covenant of grace; they have some others but basically it’s one single covenant, not the individual biblical covenants we’ve been talking about. So be sure you read that about what they mean by covenant structure versus what we mean by covenant structure.
Question asked: Clough replies: The idea that the warning passages really discourage you in one sense because the bar does seem to go higher in that viewpoint. I was intrigued back many years ago. I forgot who I talked to, it was a guy who was unusual for a counselor. He had very good theological training and I asked him, I said, you know in Christian counseling when you work with people with really bad news problems, depression, and that sort of thing, have you ever observed what theological meanings they are, could you ever do a statistical study of that. He said oh yeah, it’s obvious, he says 80–90% of the people that come that are depressed and upset and so on for counseling are all out of an Arminian background. Unhesitating—just boom, right like that.
That’s this constant turmoil of not being able to rest in the Scriptures, because … see, the sad thing is that there’s something good about … in Arminian circles we have to be careful here. John Wesley was of Arminian bent; he was in the Church of England but he basically did his thing that way, and he was reacting against placid, complacent Calvinism. That’s where these pendulums get started.
If you think about it, what was one of the things that the Reformed Theology didn’t do to Rome? They kept churches identical to the political jurisdiction. So what was Wesley’s situation? He was in England. What was the Church in England that dominated the whole scene? The Church of England, the Anglican Church. And when you dominate the whole scene what tends to happen? If you have no political enemies and you are it, you’re the big man, you get to get fat and lazy, and that’s what happens to these institutional state churches, and there are some godly people in there saying something’s wrong around here.
So they would launch off into these deeper life spiritual crusades and there was, again, nothing wrong with the motive. Many of these things the motives aren’t the problem; it’s just where it goes.
So they wanted to straighten things out, and Wesley tried to reform the Church of England, have a disciplined approach, this and that, and that’s why the word “Methodist” arose. He wanted to do these things. The problem is that in order to walk in the Christian life you’ve got to walk by faith. How do you walk by faith if you don’t have assurance? You’ve got the cart before the horse here. You’ve got to get the theology straight, and if nothing else I think it helps, at least it’s helped me to think this through on justification and faith and all the rest of it, is just think of the simple story of Martin Luther’s life.
Here he was a priest, tormented with his idea of sin, and knowing full well that he was a sinner. I mean there’s nothing wrong with knowing you’re a sinner; it’s healthy because it keeps us from thinking that we have some brownie point machine that we can do all these great things and God’s going to be impressed with it. It helps keep a perspective on your life.
A good concept of total depravity keeps us in kind of a skeptical sense of humor about yourself, you can’t take yourself too seriously if you really believe in total depravity, so that’s good. What becomes bad is what you are talking about, is where after a while you just get beat down to the point where you’re ashamed to go before God. You feel like a failure, you feel like you’ve screwed up here, you’ve screwed up there, everywhere I look I screw up, and there’s just this depressive spirit that comes because you get so frustrated with yourself because we know all the areas where we don’t follow the Scriptures.
Imagine in that mental state, how do you get out of that state and start walking by faith so that you can obey? It’s a vicious cycle, you get discouraged because you disobey, You get out of it, lose assurance, and then because you lost assurance you cut yourself off from the filling of the Holy Spirit and trusting the Lord and operating by faith, and then more stuff happens. It just goes down the tubes so that’s why you’ve got to go back to assurance.
One of the ways to do that is it does involve something—it’s not being saved again; it’s knowing the doctrine of restoration/confession, going back to Psalm 32, Psalm 38, Psalm 51. How did David deal with the problem? David dealt with a real mess, and after he confessed he had to live through the mess.
The problem is when you really screw up in the Christian life you create all this garbage and then for the next 150 miles you’re walking through garbage. And that can be depressing because you know the garbage is your fault. So how do you keep it up? You have to keep going back and saying wait a minute, God says He forgave me. He forgave me, I’m justified in Christ because otherwise Satan will always take you [can’t understand word/s] and you’ll see this crud, this crud, this crud, and he just gets you looking at all that and finally you say hey, I’m totally out of it here.
All this heavy theology has very practical impact, and what I’m trying to get you to see is that on the one hand you go off into Arminianism where you have a great sense of sin but then the problem is you don’t know what to do with it, and there’s no relief from it. And Calvinism can become very complacent and you can say oh well, I’m elect and no problem. It’s just total shallowness, absolute shallowness, no sense of God’s righteousness or … I’m not saying all Reform people do that, I’m just saying that can happen.
Or, you can be like many of the Puritans, and if you ever have time and you want to go to the book store or the library, pick out John Owens for example, he was one of the great Puritan exegetes. This guy went through the book of Hebrews, he put it in seven volumes; these guys had well-oiled pens when they did work.
Look up some Puritan authors and just read them, and you will find that they have tomes this thick, some of the stuff is wonderful, and it’s really uplifting. The Puritan manuals on their church life were fantastic. But where they get off into things is they have these big tomes where they call conversion morphologies—that’s the academic buzz word for those kinds of books—conversion morphology.
What that is are these big thick ponderous meditations on making sure that you are of the elect, fruit examination, every day to see, do we have fruit? This sort of thing. And after a while, I mean this gets depressing. That’s why often times you hear that of the Puritans, that they walked around with dark black clothes and all the rest of it. Some of it’s caricature, but others of it is this morphology, this total preoccupation.
See what happens, in spite of all the theology and the heavy theocentricity of their position, in practice you’re not looking up, you’re looking in—doing exactly what Roman Catholicism did before the Reformation. That’s where it’s so insidious that you have to keep a balance here. And that’s why I’m taking you through the Reformed Theology.
The area that we’re talking about in contrast to dispensationalism really is not … the stuff that we were talking about tonight, the TULIP stuff isn’t really the stuff that is directly against dispensationalism. Dispensationalism wasn’t around when TULIP was created. I’m just giving you the TULIP to see the background of the thought that led to Covenant Theology, which is directed, and that does clash with dispensationalism.
But I’m trying to be careful here because I honor these people. I’m not trying to knock them in the sense of well, we know so much more than you do. If we were living back then and I had my choice, I’d live with them, believe me, I wouldn’t be living in some animal farm in England somewhere, in the Church of England as cruddy as it was.
So these people broke ground for us, it’s like you get raised in a family and you see things in your family that you say well I can improve on that. And you wouldn’t want your grandfather or great-grandfather to say well you’re not going to do that, I believe this and the rest of my generations are going to believe this. How would you feel about that? God isn’t going to teach you something that He didn’t teach your grandpa? It’s not disrespect for your grandfather to say that God’s going to teach you, you’re going to stand on his shoulders and you’re going to grow more. That’s what history is about, history didn’t stop in 1700.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s why you’ve seen me over the years here, I keep saying Creator/creature distinction. I know that you think oh gosh, here he goes again, but the reason I keep doing that is we can’t get enough of it, because I think if you hold to that it tends to balance you in this stuff and you don’t get off in these things.
What really did happen is like she said, you read the writings and it’s as though their model of God is us, and how we would do something, and it’s visualized that way, and that controls the language and how they set the creeds up, whereas if you think about it in Scripture, as much a we don’t like it, as much as uncomfortable is this sense, I’m sure you’ve all had this sense, is you see this truth in Scripture and you see this truth in Scripture, you want to be sure they don’t contradict.
On the other hand, boy I can’t see how they both go together. Yet you sit there and you rest. Why do you rest that way? Because, remember one of the promises we drilled on was Philippians and it said that the “peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts.” That’s what Paul’s talking about, he says the peace of God finally is beyond your comprehension, and you can’t sit there and think you’ve got it all knocked and after you do that grand act of thinking it all through, then you’re going to have peace. It never happens that way.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s true but I would be very careful about saying that to someone in the Reformed camp because they would react to you pretty fast on that one. I think the best way of being merciful and gracious in this area is to say that no matter how brilliant they were, under the guns of the 16th and 17th centuries, they couldn’t have thought this through; we couldn’t have thought it through, it’s not knocking them.
Same guy says something: Clough replies: The Renaissance was a time when they became more aware in their education of the great works of the past, but the great works of the past never really had ceased inside the church because you had Aquinas. Aquinas knew Aristotle backwards and forwards.
So there were some of the classics known in the church, but by the time you get to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, everything is going that way. So they brought back a lot of those things, it’s just that unbelief has eighty hundred forms in it, and when you get away from Scripture, what you wind up doing is you accord too much authority to human reason.
Same guy says something about transubstantiation: Clough replies: I don’t think so, not that I know of, I was raised in a very liturgical church, I was an altar boy and I can remember the priest doing the same thing. This was a Protestant Episcopal Church, and he would sit there and slosh the wine around and drink it, but I don’t think limited atonement was … [same guy interrupts and says something] Well, it might be something in that sense. But it’s trying to be respectful; it’s trying to be respectful, but I think the Lord understands that …
When my son was in Okinawa one of the things he used to do in his time off, he would go down under water and have his quiet time, with a snorkel and stuff, and the reason he used to do that is that he loved to watch the fish, and in Okinawa the water is very, very clear and you can see coral and fish and so forth. And he always used to say, you know, isn’t it amazing, look at the colors that God has put on these fish, and nobody looks at them, isn’t that a waste?
Think about it, the deep sea creatures that we don’t see, nobody sees, He could have painted them gray, why does He put all the art work in the back closet? Because that’s just His effulgence, His glorious grandeur and we would say He wastes, but He doesn’t. It’s not a waste to Him, He probably enjoys it because what does Genesis say? He saw what He had made and He said it’s good. And that’s a craftsman, that’s the craftsman part of our God, He loves His own works, enjoys it.
Question asked: Clough replies: He’s bringing out an interesting point, that Reformed Theology, if you are sitting within the Reformed camp and looking at evangelism, this has been a problem. J. I. Packer wrote a book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, in which he struggles with this very problem. That’s what that book is about, but the way to think about God’s sovereignty and His choices, and the gospel invitation, there’s a neat place in Scripture that you can use to think this through, and it doesn’t involve salvation.
It involves something analogous to it, a physical situation. It’s in Acts 26, and if you read Acts 26, this has helped me over the years, when I think I’m drifting here I go back to Acts 26, I’ve never heard anybody else do this but just me. In Acts 26 there’s a shipwreck, and Paul, as the ship begins to wreck he is told by an angel that everybody will be saved. So there’s the destiny, all set up for you.
And then he spends the rest of the time pleading with the captain, yelling and screaming and carrying on that everybody stay on the boat or they won’t be saved. There’s an interesting example of Paul, because he clearly had, almost a Theophanic encounter with God before that accident started and all during the time the ship is wrecking he’s pleading with the centurion to get these guys on board or none of them are going to be saved.
How can we put this together? Here he’s told before about the outcome, and then he’s talking about the means to get there. The way I remember back years ago, I sat in a class with Charles Caldwell Ryrie and the neat thing about studying under Dr. Ryrie is that … we used to call him the Perry Como of theology because he always had this kind of suave quiet way, very practical way of handling these hot potatoes, and he used to look up at us, he’d start off the sovereignty of God.
One class he would read every passage you could find heavy on the sovereignty of God. And the very next class he’d read everything believe, choose, believe, believe, believe, addressed to the believer’s choice. Then he said, well gentlemen … and then he’d say sanctification, by the way, are there any hyper-Calvinists here? He’d say do you eat three times a day? Well yeah. Why do you do that? And he’d stop. Think about it. If you can’t lengthen your life or shorten it, why are you concerned about eating? Because, somehow eating is the means of reaching that goal.
And that’s the problem, the means and the end get warped; in this heavy Calvinism thing you get to the point where the end gets fixed, but it’s never fixed independently of means.
So the means, one of the means is evangelism. And it’s helped me over the years to think about witnessing and evangelism as a two-edged sword, that when we witness and when we evangelize, not that right there somebody has to touch the Lord because we know that doesn’t happen. But something actually does happen when a gospel presentation is made, that something is happening in that heart and they may be driven from the gospel. It’s a sobering thing to think about, but the act of witnessing creates historically the elect and the non-elect.
Think of it this way. The elect and the non-elect aren’t existing, are they, until they believe? There’s no such thing. Does the Bible ever talk about unbelieving elect before they believe? I don’t think you can find a passage of Scripture that does that. The elect are identified as they believe. So they come into existence historically through the preaching of the Word of God.
So that’s why in Arminianism, this plea, oh please trust God, and you know, God’s going to be terribly depressed for all eternity because you didn’t believe, you really messed up His plan. That’s not evangelism. You don’t see Paul going to the Athenians and saying oh would you please trust the Lord. No, he says listen guys, God commands all of you to repent; do you know why, because He’s appointed a man and in the day of judgment He’s going to judge all of you, so get your act together. [message abruptly ends]