Applying proper principles of interpretation, note that the verse states that to the unbeliever Christ is “. . . a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient.” In other words these people to whom this verse is referring heard the word and stumbled at it. The word “stumble” is the Greek word “proskopto” and means to “strike or surge against.” They heard God’s truth, yet were deliberately disobedient. They knew it was God’s word, but they refused to accept Him or His word. God then says “. . . whereunto they were appointed.” The word “whereunto” refers to God’s plan, which because of their rejection of God’s word, would result in their ruin. Therefore they are appointed to God’s plan, that those who reject His mercy and grace, refusing to believe upon hearing the Gospel and being convicted by the Holy Spirit, would be condemned to eternal damnation.
The passage cannot be said to support the idea that God is revealing who He decreed to be appointed to condemnation. The condemnation from God was because the person was disobedient to God. (See verses 7 and 8) That is what the verses state. Note that the disobedience was followed by condemnation. The passage is not stating that God refused to offer His grace, resulting in the person being elected to be eternally lost. It plainly states that the reason for their condemnation was that they were disobedient to God, not because He decreed they would be lost. If God decreed their condemnation He would not have referred to their disobedience as significant. God is not the cause of man's disobedience, but it is man's love of sin and refusal to bow in faith to God that brings condemnation.
1 Peter 2:9 says ". . . But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people . . ." The misuse of 1 Peter 2 is a good example of the error of Calvinism. The Calvinists sees the word chosen and concludes that this refers to their view that God decreed in His sovereignty whom He would save and who He would not. They believe that God has chosen whom He will allow to receive Him and from whom He will withhold His grace. Those chosen are the "elect" and those not elected God condemns to the Lake of Fire with no chance of salvation. This is a false premise that is not found in God's word.
The Calvinist does not use a correct exegetical approach to interpretation. 1 Peter 2:9-10 contextually states what the believer is chosen to, not who would be chosen. The verse states that the believer is appointed to be a part of a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people." Note that each of the words used describes what the believer is chosen to, not addressing individuals, but groups or classes of saved people.
A "chosen generation" is not talking about an individual, but people within a time frame. A "royal priesthood" is referring to a class of people. Clearly, a "holy nation" cannot be applied to an individual, but to all believers and a "peculiar people" is referring to humans considered as a group of an specified number.
1 Peter 2:8-10 exegetically gives no support to Calvinism. The Calvinist imposes his false view on these verses to support his faulty human idea. This passage is revealing God's plan; not whom would be saved or from whom He would withhold His grace.
Do passages such as Jeremiah 1:5 support Calvinism?
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
This verse plainly states that God "knew" Jeremiah. This clearly refers to God's foreknowledge of the birth of Jeremiah and who Jeremiah would be. God is omniscient. He knew that Jeremiah would be a man of faith and serve Him. God chose him to be a prophet to Judah and the nations in that area. God clearly says that He chose Jeremiah to be a prophet by His foreknowledge.
Foreknowledge is not the same as "fore decreeing." If God decreed to make Jeremiah a prophet without giving him a choice, why did He not say that? Why did he say He "knew" Jeremiah? Knowing is not the same as decreeing. God is omniscient; He knows all things including who would be born on earth and how they would live their lives. God knows all men and here emphasizes that He had knowledge of Jeremiah's character and faith. God then chose to use a man who would be faithful to him.
Again the Calvinist interprets this passage eisegetically, applying his presupposition that God decreed certain ones for salvation and withholds His grace from others. They conclude that God did not give Jeremiah a choice, but forced him to obey His will. Yet, the passage does not state that idea. The Calvinist's problem is that he sees everything within the tenants of his false system of theology. His interpretation of God's word will always supports his Calvinistic ideas. God is telling us that He "knew" Jeremiah would be a man of faith and that God could use him as a prophet to Israel. There is no support in this passage for opinions or presuppositions that go beyond what God has stated.
Clearly, Calvinists are grabbing at straws when they use Jeremiah or others like John the Baptist, who God chose as His prophets, through His foreknowledge, to support their false teaching. This explanation does not fit their erroneous theology so they reject this truth.
The Bible does not teach that God predestined some to Heaven and others to hell. Nowhere in these verses, or anywhere else in God's word, is it stated or implied that God predestined some to salvation and others to hell, with no chance to be saved. Those that make such statements have gravely misapplied God's word to their false ideas. What is predestined is God's plan of salvation. That plan is what a believer becomes as a child of God, which is the result of salvation. It states the believer's position is with God, once they are saved, and the life he then lives in Christ. God's plan is what He predestined. God's plan is that a man who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is saved and the one that rejects God's grace is lost and condemns himself.
When a man believes in Calvinism it is always the result of accepting the teaching of some man. Calvinism is only accepted by those to whom it is taught. If a man studies the Bible alone he will never become a Calvinist. Understanding that God is love and offers grace freely, it would never enter in a Bible student's mind that God would choose to send some individuals to hell and deny them the ability to respond to the Gospel. The Bible's theme, presented repeatedly, is that God is a God of love and grace. Understanding God's unchanging character of love and justice would not allow me to be swayed in that false direction.
Calvinism seems to pride itself in praising and defending the sovereignty of God, which is the premier doctrine of Calvinism. The believer who rejects Calvinism also accepts that God is absolutely sovereign. But God's sovereignty cannot contradict His other attributes. God's attribute of love and justice would not allow Him to deny His grace to untold millions. It would be against God's very nature for Him to do this. Calvinism, in reality, misrepresents God's nature. The Calvinist demeans and degrades God's sovereignty, making God unloving and unjust, by saying that God uses His sovereignty unjustly, not allowing some to be saved.
THE BIBLICAL EXPLANATION
Many believers, who accept a literal and holistic interpretation of Scripture, have the correct biblical understanding of the matter, and reject both extremes of Calvinist and Arminian systems. Both the Calvinists and the Arminians have fallen into a trap set by human wisdom, which tries to explain and systematize every act of God. They have used the poorest of hermeneutical principles and reached wrong conclusions about God Himself. God clearly has not told man everything about Himself or given us the "why" of all He has done. But what He has plainly revealed is that we are to believe Him, trust Him, accept Him and live. It is unthinkable that God would leave us in a state of confusion over the matter of salvation! Yet, that is what the Calvinist concludes. All this confusion is not in God's word, but in the unsound reasoning of some men.
God made salvation so simple and clear that even a little child can believe, be saved and become a witness to others. What is the value of spending countless hours concocting theological systems which seek to second guess all God has done? The Bible principle that "you can know the vine by its fruit" is well applied here. What is the fruit of Calvinism and Arminianism? They have both led to confusion, division and false teaching. Therefore both systems should be rejected because both produce unbiblical results.
One response of those who have extreme views on the doctrine of election is often resort to judgmental and cult-like attacks on those who would differ with them. Almost every Calvinist writer I've studied, to some degree, harshly judges the motives of non-Calvinists.
Calvinist Gordon Clark criticizes those who differ from the Calvinist view by concluding they are not students of the Bible and not interested in doctrine.(11) That is a meretricious and unscholarly attack on those who disagree with him. A swipe at non-Calvinists establishes nothing and does nothing to support his credibility as a Bible scholar. It is a childish response and out-of-place with biblical scholarship. Many renowned and scholarly men with earned degrees in the Bible disagree, rejecting Calvinism. To say they are not scholarly or interested in truth shows an extreme unsound bias.
Calvinist C. D. Cole makes this harsh judgment toward those who do not accept Calvinism, saying, "Ah, the real trouble with the objector is not election; it is something else. His real objection is to total depravity or human inability to do good."(12) This is simply a false statement. Most Bible scholars and students reject Calvinism, and totally accept that man is a depraved sinner lost in his sins as Romans 3:10 plainly states. Once again the Calvinist does not offer any real defense of his beliefs, but makes unfounded critical statements about those who do not agree with him.
John MacArthur also fits this mold accusing objectors to the Calvinistic system of ejecting because of pride.(13) Kenneth Good, who falsely places all traditional Baptists as Calvinists correctly says, "It is to be regretted that both confusion and emotion seem to reign in the current discussions on Calvinism versus Arminianism. Considerably more heat than light is being generated by the energy presently expended in most quarters."(14)
The Calvinist often resorts to defending his position by stating that those that reject this false view are rejecting God's sovereignty. This is also an absurd statement. Such a weak defense shows the unsound foundation on which their ideas are founded. Certainly, Almighty God is absolutely sovereign, which precludes Him from going against His own nature. The true biblicalist correctly understands and accepts God's sovereignty, but this does not mean he must accept the theology of Calvinists, which contradict God's other attributes. The true Bible scholar knows that God, in His sovereignty, does not violate His own nature or His stated word.
Both the Calvinists and Arminians have taken extreme positions. Neither has proved its system to be biblical or a correct explanation of the doctrines of election. Huntsmen, of David Jeremiah's "Turning Point," in a weak attempt to defend Calvinism's contradictions, tell us not to attempt to reconcile the teachings of God on election and the sovereignty of God.(15) Both the Calvinist and Arminian teachings contain some truth, but they go further than God does, making them erroneous. I have been a student of the Bible since I was saved in 1972 at 32 years of age. I thank those that taught me that the first distinctive of a New Testament believer is to accept the Bible as my sole authority for faith and practice. The Bible is the authority, not the theological systems of man. I am a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, and I identify myself totally with Him alone.
Paul condemned the error of identifying oneself with man or religious teachers in 1 Corinthians 1:12. In 1 Corinthians 3:4, Paul says identifying oneself with anyone but Jesus Christ is a carnal act. True believers identify themselves with Jesus Christ; He is the Word, and only His word is Truth. The true believer is to accept God's word as the only source for faith and practice. The Calvinist by accepting John Calvin's "Institutes" as the source and explanation of faith, make a serious mistake.
The Conclusion On a Personal Note.
I am not a Calvinist nor am I an Arminian. I reject both titles and systems. Both are heretical and cult-like systems of fallible men. I choose to call myself simply a Bible believer. I identify myself with my Savior and His word. I take no pride in the fact that I am saved; yet I am eternally grateful. I am awed by the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary's cross for my sin. I am deeply and eternally grateful to God who loved this blind sinner that much! I totally reject the idea that I received salvation on any merit of my own! I was, as God said, a sinner, dead in trespasses and sin, sold unto sin, a child of sin, with no righteousness of my own. I was saved by the sovereign act and plan of our loving God, who came to the earth, incarnate in man and totally paid my sin debt. I did not merit salvation and was totally in bondage to my sinful nature. I absolutely had no spark of divinity in me. Yet, God loved me, His created being, and suffered for me while I was yet in my sin. He provided the way and the means of my salvation, by His grace, through faith. I do not try and put Almighty God in a box and try to systematize God's act of saving the sinner. I just believe His very Word and thank Him for loving me, the sinner that I am, and forgiving my sin and giving me eternal life.
Man cannot take pride or boast of any merit on his part in his salvation. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Man cannot merit salvation by good works. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).
Man has no goodness or righteousness in him upon which to base his salvation. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Many in history have fallen into the trap of going further than Scripture goes; trying, with human rationalization, to explain and systematize God's actions. The result of such rationalization is extremism. Finite men with finite minds cannot systematize Almighty God! It is an extreme and false view that says God predestined some men to be damned to hell, not offering them salvation. It is equally an extreme view that states that man can in any way merit his salvation or lose the eternal life that God gives the believer.
Each view, Calvinism or Arminianism, when adhered to, violates clear biblical teaching, and therefore cannot be truth. I reject the extremes of both the Calvinists and the Arminians and do not use either name in identifying my stand on accepting what the Bible clearly teaches.
There was a time when I did not think that these issues were important. I have since changed my mind, because I have seen the fruit of Calvinism. Over the past years many people have written and expressed the confusion and anguish the teachings of Calvinism causes in their lives. One dear lady wrote and said she had not had any children because she was afraid that God would not elect them to salvation. (16)
Calvinism has cast a shadow over some people's assurance of salvation, because they wondered if they were elected or rejected by God. One man wrote that when his church began teaching Calvinism. He said "I was sick for 2 weeks, couldn't sleep or eat. I was bothered by it taking away the loving Savior I had known all my life."(17)
Another young man wrote saying he was seeking the Lord and studying the claims of Christ. He then stumbled across the teachings of Calvinism and said it shattered him. He said, "My question to you is, am I able to make a choice to follow Christ? If I want to follow Christ, can I do so? Or is it not my choice? I feel odd trying to put this question into words, but I've tried. The bottom line is, if I wished to become a Christian today, tomorrow or whenever I feel I am ready, can I do so? Calvinists have tried to tell me that I have the inability to call upon Christ, and that if not one of the elect, I won't be saved. Please help!"(18)
For years I have corresponded with Calvinists, and found they will rarely concede to any plain biblical truth that does not agree with their theology. From their statements about the issue, they seem to be a proud people who see themselves superior intellectually and spiritually. However, their fruit is corrupt because it ignores God's word, and worse distorts even the very nature of God.
*All Rights Reserved. Cooper P. Abrams III, May 2008. The author grants copying rights for individual personal use and for use in type of Bible studies. This document must not be: 1. Distributed in multiple copies without my permission, except as stated above. 2. It must not be sold. Permission to republish is readily offered if I am contacted. Thank you.