Calvinism, Free Will, & OSAS
What is Calvinism, why does it matter, and who cares?
This article contains significant Biblical evidence that you probably have never heard before regarding a traditional belief that many Christians think is absolute truth!
If you think your doctrinal foundation is solid then I CHALLENGE you to test it. If you are the sensitive type, then I say PLEASE stay to the end. If you are the competitive type, then I DARE YOU to read it all!
It’s a bit long but please hear me out and consider the evidence. If this was not a critical matter then I would not chance losing friends or getting metaphorically tarred and feathered. This topic is VERY important and may affect your life – possibly eternally!
But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
Calvinism is a belief system created by John Calvin (1509-1564) that isolates and highlights a few scriptures talking about predestination – and allegorizes or ignores the many others that counter the assumed meanings of these scriptures. It is a system of biblical interpretation and spiritual filtration that causes people to miss critical truths and doctrines. Internalizing these beliefs can, and probably will, detrimentally affect the way you live now, your eternal rewards, and in some cases your eternal destination. Meaning, this is really important!
The study of Calvinism can consume many hours of reading but I think I can simplify it fairly. The heart of Calvinism can be summed up in five points. An acrostic was invented to help remember them – TULIP.
The Five Points of Calvinism:
Total Depravity (also more accurately known as Total Inability)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved – OSAS)
Here are their definitions:
It is fascinating that many people who consider themselves Calvinists before fully learning about it discover afterwards that they only hold one or possibly two of the belief points and reject the others. Most evangelical Christians hold only to point five.
Because most believers reject points one through four, I am only going to cover them briefly. Here are just seven out many possible scriptures to quickly refute the first four tenets:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both you and your seed may live. – Deuteronomy 30:19
Say to them, As I live, said the Lord YHWH, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? – Ezekiel 33:11
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of YHWH. – Proverbs 1:29
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. – 1 Timothy 2:5-6
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely. – Revelation 22:17
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
Does John 3:16 say "that whoever is predestined to believe in him should not perish"?
Did Peter say "not willing that any who are predestined should perish, but that all the predestined should come to repentance". Second Peter 3:9 is an absolute statement that is absolutely true or absolutely false. I stand that it is true.
God does not change. If it was His will that none should perish 2000 years ago when Peter wrote it then that is His will now, and that was His will in the very beginning. If that is true, and predestination was true, then He would have predestined everyone to believe in Him. This is obviously wrong.
Furthermore, if He wanted all people since the beginning to have a choice to come to Him then all His redemptive work since the fall of man, including Jesus’ death and resurrection, were for all people, not just for some predestined few!
The cornerstone of Calvinism is that there is no free will. If you believe that we have any free will then you are not a true five point Calvinist.
Predestination as the Greek philosophers defined it, as is now conceptually understood by most people, and as John Calvin believed it, does NOT exist. The omniscience and foreknowledge of God does NOT take away our choice.
There are seven instances of the Greek word Proorizo [prohoREEtso] (Acts 2:25, Acts 4:28, Romans 8:29, Romans 8:30, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11, 1 Corinthians 2:7). In the King James Bible it is translated four times into a form of the word "predestine", once as "ordained before", once as "determined before", and once as "foresaw".
The use of Proorizo is one of many cases where a Hebrew concept gets misinterpreted by the use of a Greek word that does not have the exact same meaning. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you.
In Acts 2:25 Peter made a direct quote from Psalms 16 and is rendered in the American King James as:
For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw [Proorizo] the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved.
Now look at the source of the quote in Psalms 16:8, followed by the Hebrew:
I have set YHWH always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
שויתי יהוה לנגדי תמיד כי מימיני בל אמוט׃
The first Hebrew word (in bold, reading right to left) is Shiviti and is translated four other times as "I have laid", "I laid before me", "I have behaved", and "I reckoned". Do any of these show any hint of the Greek concept of soul destiny or predestination?
Shiviti is a form of the word Shavah which means to adjust, counterbalance, place, countervail, lay, and set. The Greeks did not have an exact word equivalent so they used the closest they had – but unfortunately it also carries this meaning of prearranged destiny with no choice.
The concept behind each Proorizo verse (which may have been originally written in Hebrew and translated to Greek) can be shown to mean that in God’s foreknowledge of what we will choose, He in His omniscience can plan around it to get exactly the outcome He wants, when He wants it, without sacrificing our choice. God knew all from the beginning but adjusted and counterbalanced around the fact that many would choose against Him. He is the ultimate chess player, able to see into an infinite future of choices.
Even Romans 8:29 ties the word predestinate directly to His foreknowledge:
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate [Proorizo] to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
A better meaning can be found for each case by the idea of preplanning or adjusted planning, such as:
For whom He did foreknow, He also preplanned to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
To cover each case of Proorizo in depth would take several more pages, so I will move on.
The bottom line is this – there IS free will or there is NOT free will. There can’t be both. Love is a choice. I can program my computer to tell me it loves me all day long but that is not love. Without free will there is no love!
Once Saved Always Saved
1. Why is it that the issue of slavery caused friends and relatives to shoot at one another in the Civil War?
2. What is it about the subject of abortion that can turn friends into enemies?
3. Why is that you can talk to an atheist about the Tooth Fairy and all is amicable but when you bring up the subject of Jesus or God they get angry and defensive? I know why – I was one long ago (an atheist, not a tooth fairy).
Whenever you see a hot button topic you can bet there is a deep underlying issue born of inner conflict.
1. The reason slavery caused a war was because a whole society existed based on a lie. Whether acknowledged consciously or not, every slaveholder knew in their spirit that the exploitation of slaves was wrong but changing it would have cost them their fortunes and way of life.
2. The reason abortion is so divisive is that the whole premise that someone can "choose" to terminate a life for any reason whatsoever is buried under layers of "science" fiction, self deception, and guilt.
3. If an atheist truly did not believe that there is a God that holds him accountable for his actions then he would not be upset at all – but his emotions betray him.
Emotions caused by inner conflict can blind the intellect and reason. If we cannot identify the source of our emotions then we are likely to blind ourselves from revealing evidence.
I am going to challenge OSAS in a moment with some solid Biblical evidence. Does this make you feel threatened or stressed? If so, why?
Can you explain why you believe in OSAS without raised feelings or voice? If so, then you are prepared to consider the evidence on its own merit and reading the rest of this will be a great exercise in your spiritual knowledge. However, if this challenge is causing heightened negative feelings then you need to ask yourself why and make sure that you can objectively look at the subject.
When adrenaline and high blood pressure are present in this debate I have found there are two base reasons hiding under the arguments. There may be other reasons but these are what I have discerned. One is legitimate but based on wrong assumptions or teachings, and the other is caused by internal conflict.
When people don’t have a good foundation in the Word, Satan will attack them with lies and fear. Many have taught, from both sides of the fence, that if OSAS is not true then if you die while in the midst of any sin before you can repent, that you will go to hell, and that by a common stumble that you can "lose" (key word) your salvation like your car keys. One moment you’re safe and the next you’re in danger; saved, not saved, saved, not saved.
What a rollercoaster of lies! Living under this belief is torture. There can be no peace or joy. How could anyone have any assurance? This is bondage. This belief is a common companion to legalism and a condemning spirit. No wonder folks get upset with this idea. I join you in rejecting this!
I assure you that the above supposition is NOT the opposite of OSAS.
Hold on – this might be uncomfortable. If you are living in a circumstance where you are in continual unrepentant sin or rebellion, and at your core you know that you are unwilling to repent because the cost seems too high, then the reason you may be holding on to OSAS is to comfort yourself into believing that you are in no spiritual danger.
Are you pilfering God’s gift of physical union outside His boundaries of marriage? Are you cheating people in business, even if it’s legal? Is there anything you are doing that you would be ashamed of if found out? Are you continually and willfully doing things that you know are against God’s Word, thinking that you are covered by your eternal fire insurance? Are you ignoring the Spirit’s conviction thinking that you might lose a few rewards but at least you’ll get in the gate?
But now I have written to you not to keep company with any man that is called a brother who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionist; with such a one do not eat.
Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 5:11,6:9-10
Paul was talking to believers! He is saying that someone called a brother, a fellow believer, is unrighteous if he is practicing sin. Yes, a person can be a believer AND be unrighteous and will "not inherit the kingdom of God"! He was not addressing those who stumbled into one of those sins and then repented, but those who knowingly practice them unrepentantly while quenching the Spirit’s convictions!
Have I hit a nerve? Then this is the cause of your raised emotions. You may now argue with God.
But what do you [the chief priests and the elders in context] think? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That the publicans and the harlots will go into the kingdom of God before you. – Matthew 21:28-31
Why? Because by their own words they demonstrated they knew what correct behavior was but were living their lives in deceit and deception.
The Evidence Against OSAS
There are a lot of good ways to show the error of OSAS but I want to go down a path I have not seen presented before.
Most Christians have heard of the Book of Life. A commonly quoted scripture that mentions it is:
And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:15
Since this obviously dealing with our eternal destination this is very important. Let's look at some other verses that talk about this book.
And I entreat you also, true companion, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life. – Philippians 4:3
To solidify it further Jesus spoke to his disciples about this too:
Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. – Luke 10:20
Paul and Jesus are indicating that the names of these believers ARE written in the Book of Life AND are making a distinction that those not saved yet are NOT written in the book. This eliminates the possibility that the writing of the names in the book are after death.
Then when are the names of those going to heaven written in the book? Is it during people's life times? Is it at conception or sometime before, or even before Genesis? And if they are written in beforehand, are only those who will be saved written, or were all people's names written in and then those who will not be saved get removed at some point during their lives (possibly at first accountable sin)?
Let's number these and look at each:
I am not aware of number one being taught or espoused by anyone. There is no scriptural evidence for it either so I will eliminate this from our possibilities. So which of the other two is true? There are two more scriptures that we need to divide the word.
Here's where it gets ominous. John, writing to the church in Sardis:
He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. – Revelation 3:5
Meaning, he that does NOT overcome WILL get his name blotted out! Also:
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. – Psalms 69:28
Did you get that? We have here two witnesses that names can be blotted out! These are telling us that under some yet undefined circumstance a person CAN have their salvation status revoked! Folks, this should be sobering. How could this happen? Shouldn't we know so we can make sure that it does not happen to us?
If you are a Calvinist and believe that God wrote all the predestined names into the book beforehand then why is there a need to erase them as they would not have been there in the first place? The idea of prewritten names can't be correct!
If the book was blank to begin with and the names got written in later, then when? When we are "born again" is the truth that is left? Let's see if we can find out how a name could be blotted out. Here is a commonly used passage to prove OSAS:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35,38-39
That is a very comprehensive list, and I think it was meant to cover every thing else that happens to not be on the list. However, there is one thing that is not covered and not on the list which God will honor above all else – YOU!
But wait you say, doesn’t "any creature" cover you? Not quite. It says "nor any OTHER creature"! Why is the word "other" there? (And yes, it’s there in the Greek – Heteros.) Because no other created being OTHER THAN YOU can separate you from the love of Christ!
Do you find it curious why most believers reject the first four points of Calvinism but not the fifth? Does it make any sense that we have a free will before salvation but not after?
What the list in Romans 8 is telling us is that as long as we walk in His path, even if we stumble, there is nothing that can break the seal God has put on us. But after being saved, if YOU choose by your own volition to "give" the gift back, then He will honor your decision. Just because someone chooses to believe that they can live a life of intentional continuous disobedience and then be forgiven at the end doesn’t make it true.
This is NOT a case of you stumbling, or even falling flat in the mud, and then dying and "losing" your salvation. Yes, it is impossible to "lose" your salvation! The gift must be returned by YOUR decisions of continual, willful disobedience.
He knows we will fail Him sometimes but if we are in a positive path toward Him He will keep us safe by gentle or harsh guidance. What I am talking about is the person who willfully and persistently says, "I don't care if it’s wrong, I can do as I please because I’m eternally safe." I can't say when, but eventually God will give people in this condition over to their desires and its consequences.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. – Romans 1:28-32
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
Here is the great danger! IF you choose to believe OSAS, AND this causes you to think you can safely indulge in intentional sin in your life, and knowingly, willfully refuse the Spirit’s conviction, thinking that you will be forgiven, THEN you are in mortal danger on two fronts:
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. – Revelation 3:14-16
And he said to me, These are they who are coming out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.– Revelation 7:14,13:15
It is my sincere belief that the teaching of OSAS is the number one cause for the tepid condition of this last day's Laodicean church. People can be lazy and be willing to lose some reward for compromised living but they wouldn’t if they knew it would cost them their eternity!
1. Before the Civil War there were stately gentlemen of renown who faithfully attended church but who did despicable and vile things to their slaves, knowing that it was evil. I believe that they are now shackled in a fiery frying pan of regret.
2. I believe there will probably be more than one "Christian" doctor receiving commensurate procedures in Hades' hospital because they thought that aborting babies would be covered by their OSAS insurance plan.
3. And in case you didn’t know it, there are NO atheists in hell – they all get "converted" when they arrive.
For all who still insist on believing OSAS, at the very least, PLEASE look carefully at your life. If you find any shame there then repent NOW regardless of the cost.
Wake up, clean up, and look up!
Other verses not covered under the OSAS insurance plan:
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. – 2 Peter 2:20-21
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? – Hebrews 10:26-27,29
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not you. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness: otherwise you also shall be cut off. – Romans 11:21-22
But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die.
When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them; for his iniquity that he has done shall he die. – Ezekiel 18:24,26