Are you pulling my leg (off)?

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…” (Matthew 5:29-30; see also: Mark 9:43-47).

Would you be surprised to learn that heaven will cost you an arm and a leg? And maybe even an eye?

I believe the above passage presents a great – indeed, an insurmountable – difficulty for those who believe that we incur no cost in our own salvation. Does our obedience to the gospel turn God’s grace into a payment for services rendered?  Continue reading “Are you pulling my leg (off)?”

Once saved

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4,5).

I had a conversation about Calvinism recently with a young person. We were speaking of a couple that had left the church for a community church that taught Calvinism. My young friend observed, insightfully I thought, that they like the teaching because they assume that they were among those destined to be saved. Continue reading “Once saved”

“Choose” this day

Calvinism is the teaching that God sovereignly chooses those whom he wanted to be saved, and those who were destined to die in a state of eternal punishment. If predestined to be saved, once saved, he was always saved. If destined to be lost, no matter how strongly he desired to serve God, he would inevitably die in a lost condition. Calvinism suggests that we have no choice, God sovereignly determines our fate.

I think of the sign on a politician’s desk: “My decision is maybe – and that’s final!” Continue reading ““Choose” this day”

To choose or not to choose

“Raccoon” John Smith, one of the most colorful characters in the early Restoration Movement (how could anyone nicknamed “Raccoon” not be colorful?) was originally a denominational preacher who was expected to preach the major tenants of Calvinism, a doctrine known as predestination. It is a doctrine that suggests God sovereignly chooses, or does not choose, those who will be saved. Regardless of how a person believes or acts, he is predestined to be saved or lost.

Smith struggled with this partly because he had lost two infant children in a horrific fire. Could God have “sovereignly” chosen to take these children away, he wondered? Continue reading “To choose or not to choose”