6/10/19 – How does a calvinist know he has eternal life?
The simple answer is that he cannot know; his doctrine denies him any assurance that he will go to heaven while he remains alive on this earth!
1 John 5:11-13 – 11And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
This is very clear: a Christian should know that he has eternal life. The only exception that I can see from the Bible is when a person calls upon the name of the Lord to be saved, but refuses to let go of the world. Sooner or later such people must make the choice: to let go of the world and save their souls, or to gain the world yet lose their souls. Mark 8:36 – For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? This is clearly a very significant teaching with 3 of the 4 gospels dealing with it: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Such people are those who want to be Christian, yet do not want to give up anything of the world for the sake of Christ. Only those who have forsaken the world (that is, genuine Christians) may have genuine assurance that they have eternal life! (Try reading Luke 14:33 on this! – So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.)
Those who do not believe on the Son (Jesus) will not have eternal life.
John 3:36 – He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
That is, believing in the Son brings life; not believing in the Son denies life. Believing in the Son (Jesus) also is that which saves us, as per
Acts 16:30-31 – 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Eternal life (and therefore salvation) is a gift of God through Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And calling upon that same Jesus will cause that person to be saved, and therefore to have eternal life. Note the classic gospel passage here from Romans.
Romans 10:8-17 – 8But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
So, with all this in mind, how may I know that I am saved? I must be able to say with all honesty that I called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, that is, I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. And how may I know that I have eternal life? I have the Son of God in my life, I believe on the Son, and have consequently been given the gift of eternal life. What is the common factor in all this? I must have received Jesus Christ into my life according to the above verses.
How can I demonstrate this to others? I have to be able to say that I have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, that is, believed in Christ to be saved. It comes back to my testimony; I must have a testimony of believing in Jesus Christ to be saved and have eternal life. This is the scriptural gospel record. It is very clear and cannot be twisted into any other format other than what has been said above. Any other gospel is a false gospel such as that taught by false teachers such as Todd Friel, Paul Washer, Ray Comfort and other calvinists.
Unless you have such a testimony, you cannot be saved, and you cannot have eternal life. This is straight out basic logic. You either believe or you don’t. You are either saved or you are not saved. You either have eternal life or you don’t have eternal life. Each option excludes the other. And the same conditions apply for eternal life as they do for being saved. You can’t have eternal life without being saved. The two go together.
So, you are either saved and have eternal life, or lost and do not have eternal life. It all depends upon what you have done with the gospel. You must be able to explain clearly what you have done, or else you haven’t done it. It might be easy to not remember something you haven’t done, but it is hard to forget something you have consciously done. If you made a conscious decision to be saved, then you will remember it. (Unless you have dementia of some kind! Or maybe it wasn’t important enough to remember? But if it’s not important enough, then why should you bother with it in the first place?)
If I want to know if you have eternal life, then I should ask you if you have done anything about it, and if so, what you have done about it. Your testimony should define exactly what you have done about it. Even if you cannot remember the exact date or where you were, you shouldn’t forget it if you did it. Even someone saved as a child should know some basic details of what it meant, even if there is not much deep understanding of the processes. If someone says that he was saved as a child but cannot recall anything significant about it, then it probably wasn’t a serious decision. Even a child should know that he has in some way called upon the name of the Lord to be saved. If it is for real, then he should continue to have some appreciation of what it means to him.
You don’t get saved, you don’t get eternal life, if you haven’t done anything about it.
John 3:18 – He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The bottom line here is that if you claim to have eternal life (that is, you are saved from the condemnation of sin), then you must be able to demonstrate what you have done in your life to warrant such confidence. If you are condemned until you believe on the Son, then nothing that you do before you believe can result in eternal life. The trigger for eternal life is to believe on the Son. Without Jesus you cannot have eternal life, end of story!!
John 5:39-40 – 39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
John 14:6 also says that the only way to a relationship with the Father is through the Son. No-one can claim eternal life in any shape or form without the Son of God in his life. All are lost until they have Jesus the Son of God in their lives.
So how can those who do not believe in Jesus for life be able to claim life. There is no life without the Son. Here’s where we take a serious look at the gospel that calvinism claims is the gospel itself. What is the calvinist gospel? That you are drawn by the Father who gives you a heart of flesh instead of your heart of stone, and gives you life from the Spirit as per Ephesians 2:1. They teach oh so clearly that a dead body, a corpse, cannot respond to God in any way. Therefore, they say, you must be made alive (quickened) by the Spirit in order that you might then respond to the gospel. Without such life from the Spirit (they call it being regenerated or born again) you cannot respond to the gospel. They teach that you must be given life, and then faith and repentance (both gifts of the calvinist god) before you are able to respond to the message of salvation through Christ the Son of God. Some, fearing that they might be seen as confused, may deny this of course, but it is simple to demonstrate that this is the only logic they may follow, if they are calvinists. They have locked themselves into a logic that denies man any free will at all to respond to God in any way unless they are to be firstly made alive by the Spirit. Any other logic would require a belief in the free will of man to respond, and calvinists must not believe in the free will of man here. And, without this free will, man cannot respond until the calvinist god has prepared his heart and life to be able to respond. Put simply, calvinist doctrine makes it impossible for anyone to respond in any way to the gospel until after he has been born again (regenerated).
Calvinist logic also demands that the calvinist must be given eternal life before he can come to Christ for eternal life. Even Spurgeon admitted this in his message on John 5:40. There never was a man who came to Christ for eternal life, for legal life, for spiritual life, who had not already received it, in some sense (“Free will – a slave”) But where does the Bible say this, or even hint at this? Without Christ you cannot have eternal life! How can you have eternal life in some sense before coming to Christ if you cannot have eternal life in any sense before you come to Christ? Can you have eternal life without salvation? The answer to that is “No!” Or maybe I should ask: can you have salvation without Christ? And yet the calvinist claims to have both some sense of eternal life and some form of salvation because he was regenerated by the calvinist god. If he dies after being born again but before he believes in Christ, he thinks he is going to heaven. He thinks he has salvation because he is born again (regenerated), regardless of whether he also believes in Christ and is saved.
Also note that you can’t have just some eternal life. If you have any less than full eternal life, then it cannot be eternal at all. Therefore, eternal life in some sense must mean eternal life in every sense! The same applies to salvation: either it is complete or else it cannot be salvation. You cannot half-save someone! (“Half kill”?)
Therefore the calvinist must (by his doctrine) have both eternal life and salvation before he comes to Christ for salvation and eternal life! Some calvinists might say that they are saved by Christ, so that they can believe in Christ. Boettner says: A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved. (“The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”, Page 75) But how can a man be saved by Christ before he comes to Christ? How can a man have eternal life before he comes to Christ for eternal life? In fact, the calvinist believes (by his distorted logic once again) that he is born again with eternal life from the Spirit, therefore saved for heaven, before he can believe and be saved by Christ! Confusing? You bet! It’s a mystery just how they can believe such trash!
So what happens if a calvinist dies after being born again but before he believes in Christ? Does he go to heaven because he has eternal life, or does he have eternal life yet goes to hell? So calvinists such as Piper and MacArthur then teach that salvation in Christ (they prefer the term justification) follows so quickly after being born again that it doesn’t matter. But it does matter, because it still is teaching that for even a short time the calvinist has eternal life without being saved by Christ, yet is already saved enough to go to heaven. So, to simplify his false doctrine, the calvinist teaches that a man must be born again (regenerated) before he can respond to Christ for salvation.
Piper says: Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel
Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord
9Marks (another calvinist website) says: God regenerates us and then we believe, and hence regeneration precedes our conversion.
And CARM (that calvinist website run by Slick) says:
1/. Election – God’s choice of people to save. This choice occurred before the foundation of the world.
2/. Predestination – God’s The work of God to ordain to salvation those who have been elected to it.
3/. Calling – The preaching of the gospel message.
4/. Regeneration – The change in the person produced by God.
5/. Faith – The trust an individual has in the work of God on the cross.
6/. Repentance – Turning from sin.
7/. Justification – The imputation of righteousness to the individual bus making him righteous according to the law.
Note in this last quote that justification (and imputed righteousness) comes 3 steps after being born again with eternal life. Does this mean that being regenerated cannot make you right with God until 3 steps later? Note also that it has the preaching of the gospel message before being born again, even though calvinists clearly teach that you cannot respond to it until after you are born again. No matter what the calvinist says, their god cannot call his people via the gospel message because it would fall upon deaf (dead!) ears! And intelligent people believe this garbage! Clearly these aren’t intelligent people!
So what is the testimony of the calvinist? He cannot claim that he gave his life to Jesus or asked Jesus into his heart, or that he made a decision to be saved, or anything similar, because he is not permitted to do anything that exhibits a free will in any way in his salvation. He cannot proclaim anything he has done (such as faith and repentance) because he calls them “works” and he cannot admit to such “works” in his salvation. He believes that calling upon the name of the Lord itself is a “work” of salvation and therefore not permissible. He’s in a bit of a dilemma here, for how can he demonstrate in any way that he has eternal life. Nothing physical happens when he is born again. He doesn’t change colour or shape, or grow horns etc. He doesn’t get a sign on his forehead that declares him to be one of the elect (although he’d love to have such a special sign, I’m sure). He didn’t get a letter, email, SMS or anything of the kind to say that he’s now one of that special elite (sorry, I mean elect) group.
Clearly MacArthur likes to feel special; he says: You hear people say, “Well, you know, when you say the atonement is limited, people don’t feel very special.” Well, I’ll tell you what. I don’t feel very special if you say to me, “Christ died for you, He loves you just like He died for the millions in hell.” That doesn’t make me feel very special. That’s kind of a hard way to do evangelism. Christ died on the cross for your sins, and all the people in hell, too. That’s not special. That’s anything but special. (The Doctrine of Actual Atonement Part 1)
MacArthur also says we were saved because we were important enough: We have been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Knowing this gives us a sense of our significance and value to God. We were so important to God that He gave up His Son to die on our behalf. … Thank God for considering you valuable enough to bestow such riches upon you. … If you’re struggling with a lack of self-worth, remember that you were important enough for God to give you to Jesus as an inheritance. Book: by John MacArthur entitled: The Believer’s Life in Christ, MacArthur Bible Study Guide, Eph. 1:1-2:10 [Word of Grace Communications:1989/1995], pp. 27, 36, & 69-70
Obviously the non-elect were not important enough!
So if the calvinist is asked to get up and give a talk about being saved, or receiving eternal life, what does he say? He can’t even say that because he believes he’s one of the elect, he will persevere to the end, because he has to persevere to the end in order to prove his perseverance. He has to continue in good works until the end or else he has to admit that he was never saved in the first place. Others can claim to have Jesus in their hearts or lives (thus proving their eternal life status) but the calvinist isn’t allowed to do this. Poor calvinist! Absolutely no assurance of salvation unless he perseveres to the end, thus “proving” his eternal life. He has to die good to be assured of salvation!
So let’s look at some of these high profile calvinists and see what they have to say for themselves.
Piper says: I was raised from the dead when I was six. God almighty took out the heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh. He opened my eyes to see the light of the gospel. I was blind and he let me see even a six year old the mansion of his truth. I received the gift of faith. It was a pure miracle, a pure gift. Repentance was given to me by a sovereign act of God. So that is my first reason for saying I am blown away. I am blown away by something I don’t remember, because the Bible tells me what happened to me. And that is way more reliable than if I could remember it. …… So my story is one that I can’t remember and I hope it encourages many. (https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/john-pipers-testimony)
Oh, oh! Piper can’t remember it! Clearly calvinists get very forgetful when it comes to something as insignificant as being saved/receiving eternal life! Or is it a mystery??
So can MacArthur be more specific? After all, so many think MacArthur is second only to the calvinist god himself.
MacArthur says: Well I always believed the gospel. I don’t ever…I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t believe the gospel. ……
But there was an incident when I was about nine or ten. I had gotten involved in some vandalism because some kids had kind of prompted me to do it. .. And as to whether I was actually converted at that time, I don’t know. ……
I was one of those kids that never rebelled and always believed. And so when God did His saving work in my heart, it was not discernable to me. I went away to high school and for all I knew, I loved Christ, I was part of the ministry of the church. .. I was certainly immature, but at some point along the line I really do believe there was a transformation in my heart. But I think it may have been, to some degree, imperceptible to me because I didn’t ever have a rebellious time; I didn’t ever revolt against, you know, the gospel or not believe. (Life Testimony 80-33)
Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost. It’s clear MacArthur couldn’t have been one of the lost because he was never bad! Therefore, by logical conclusion, he could never have been saved! He never needed saving! As a calvinist MacArthur has to believe that he was once totally depraved, and yet MacArthur cannot remember any time when he was indeed totally depraved, it seems.
The calvinist cannot even be assured of getting to heaven until he dies. He has nothing definite in his life that can assure him that he is saved, apart from his works. How do you define a calvinist? He must seek after God (because God has made his elect willing to seek), and to do this he attends church (an “acceptable” church, that is). He must do good works and make an effort to avoid bad things. He is reasonably obedient to the law of God (especially on Sundays) and he is generally a nicer, better person that he might have been in the past. Effectively he is a puritan, a person who lives a pure life (mostly). But not all puritans are Christian and therefore not all puritans are going to heaven with eternal life. There are many good people in this world who do good deeds for other people, yet are not saved by the biblical gospel. In fact, some of these unsaved people do better and nicer things than many who declare themselves to be Christians. Doing good works is not going to save you. James says that faith without works is dead. But works without faith is just as dead. If you do good works, yet do not have faith in God or Christ, then you are still lost. But the calvinist cannot claim to have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, so he is locked into having to let his good works proclaim his salvation. As it stated in a book written by a high-profile calvinist: The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny.
Note that Calvin himself could never give anyone an assurance of their eternal life and salvation, for his god, by an inferior operation of the spirit, gave some a temporary faith that had great resemblance with the real faith that was given to the elect alone. (Note that this cannot refer to the Holy Spirit who would never do anything inferior, nor try to lie or deceive!)
…. experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption…….. though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. …… God regenerates the elect only for ever …… But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. ….. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.
(Institutes, Bk 3, Ch.2, Section 11)
What calvinist is there who can guarantee he has not been given a temporary faith, “an inferior operation of the Spirit”? Poor calvinist! Like a JW, he must work until he dies and not fall away or else he cannot be one of the elect!