Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. If you are a first-time listener to the program, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s book, In Defense of the Faith, and we are in chapter 11, Dave, one more chapter to go, moving right along—compared to what, I don’t know, but anyway, Dave’s book, In Defense of the Faith—I think it’s a fantastic book. I’m a little biased, a little prejudiced here, but throughout the book you will find questions that Dave has been asked over his many years of ministry, and they are difficult questions. But again, Dave, we mentioned, I think, last week, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily—if there’s a question too tough for God’s Word to answer, well then, it’s not God’s Word, simple as that.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: So, we are going to begin with a question—and, Dave, you can’t remember who these are from.
Dave: It’s probably in my files somewhere, but you know what my files look like.
Tom: Yeah. Well, this question goes: “I have a friend who turned his back on God after his third year in a conservative evangelical seminary. He was taught that God has already decided who will be saved and who will spend eternity in hell; who will have good things happen to him in life, and who will have bad. Can you help me to help him?”
Dave, they can pick up some strange things in seminaries, although conservative evangelical— you would think, Oh, no, that can’t happen.
Dave: Well, I think he’s misidentified the seminary. It would be a Calvinist seminary. This is what Calvinism teaches. So these people would have to be Calvinists. You could find it at some places that we have thought were evangelical seminaries, non-Calvinist. It could be a Calvinist professor that slipped in, or it could be—there’s a number of them that are really turning more and more Calvinistic. This really plays into the hands of the atheists, and you can see why it would cause him to renounce his faith: “You want me to believe that a God who doesn’t love everyone, and who has predestined some people to go to hell, and there is nothing they can do about it?” That’s the attitude that this young man took, and I think it’s reasonable.
Tom: So their fate has already been set before time and eternity.
Dave: Yeah. We’ve mentioned this in the past, Tom, this is what the atheist would say: “If your God can’t stop all sin and suffering, he is too weak to be God. If he can, and he doesn’t, he’s a monster.” And I would agree with that analysis. But Calvinism teaches that God could save everyone, He could cause everyone to believe the gospel, but He simply doesn’t love everyone, and He doesn’t want everyone to be saved. You and I, we are told that we are to do good to all, we are to love our enemies, forgive those that persecute us, and so forth. Jesus said, “That you may by so doing demonstrate that you are the children of your Father which is in heaven.” So, I would assume, then, that our Father which is in heaven loves everybody, is willing to forgive everyone, and wants to save everyone. And this is what the Bible teaches.
Tom: Yeah, but Dave, they would say—because we’ve heard this a lot, and we’ve been addressing these issues, at least for the last two and a half years—and they would say, “Who are you, Dave Hunt, to question God? His ways are so far above your ways, His thoughts are so far above your thoughts—why would you even presume to question God?”
Dave: Yeah. Well, that’s a good question. [Chuckling] The Calvinist—actually, John Calvin himself, said it in his Institutes that we can’t judge God by our standards. So, in other words, if love—the Bible says “God is love.” But if God’s love actually hates certain people, then we can’t question that. No, that’s not true. Of course, the clay can’t say to the potter, “Why have you made me thus?” God could send us all to hell if He wanted to, but the Bible very clearly says “He is not willing that any should perish.”
Tom: Dave, you’re not imposing your standards here or your understanding, you’re just trying to understand what God’s Word says. I mean, that’s the gist here.
Dave: But furthermore, Tom, my standards ought to be God’s standards, because Romans, chapter 2 says, “He has written his law in every conscience.” Isaiah1:18, says, “Come now, let us reason together.” On what basis will God reason with me, if I can’t understand His standards and if He has not made His standards known to me?
He has put His law in our hearts. So, the way we judge one another, in fact, it says so in Romans, chapter 2: “They accuse or excuse one another on the basis of the understanding that God has given all mankind.” Well then, I think that I can understand who God is and what He wants for mankind, and on that basis—revealed in conscience and in His Word—that I say this is not the God of the Bible.
For example, Jeremiah:9:24 says, “Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me. I am the LORD that exercise lovingkindness on the earth.” In fact, He revealed Himself to Moses—Exodus, chapters 33 and 34: Moses said, “Show me your glory. God said, I will cause all my goodness to pass before you. I will reveal my goodness to you and I will be merciful to whom I will be merciful, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and so forth. Forgiving and longsuffering…” and then it’s almost reluctantly that God says, “But I will by no means clear the guilty.”
So God tells us that His love reaches all. He tells us to do good to all, and, in fact, Psalm 145, I think it is, says that His tender mercies are over all His works. But you cannot violate His justice. God is love, the Bible says, but He’s not going to forgive people on an unrighteous basis. So He offers pardon, salvation, to all who will accept it on His terms. The Bible is very clear on this.
So, what he learned in seminary is not biblical. It’s Calvinism—it comes from Augustine, it comes from John Calvin, and tragically, we have Calvinists today, Tom, and I won’t name them, but some of the leading evangelicals—household names among evangelicals—are Calvinists, and they argue something like this: “Well, of course God loves everyone. He shows His love to all mankind by giving them sunshine and rain, and so forth.” Now I don’t think to give sunshine and rain to someone that you have already predestined to be tormented in hell, in the lake of fire forever—I don’t think you could call that kindness. You couldn’t call that love. I don’t know how anyone with any common sense could call that love, and that’s not what the Bible depicts of God’s love, and that’s not what we’re supposed to do. James tells us—he says, “If someone comes into your company of believers, he’s naked, he’s destitute of food and clothing, and so forth, and you say, Oh, be warmed and filled! but you don’t give him the things that are needed, what is the point?” And yet, not only doesn’t God help people who are going to hell, not only doesn’t He give them—the Calvinist says He could give them Irresistible Grace, He could save everybody, He could cause everybody to believe, He could elect them all—but not only doesn’t God do that, but He predestines them.
Or here is a person who is naked, destitute, they’ve got no food, no clothing, no place to live, and so forth, you not only mock them by saying, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled!” but you predestine them to continue to be naked and starving. That is the God of Calvinism! I am sorry, but then the Calvinist, as you said, hides behind this: “Well, who are you to judge God?” We don’t judge God. We know God’s standards, we know His love because He has revealed it to us, and this is completely out of character for God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Tom: Dave, you know, I mentioned earlier that we’ve been looking at—that you’ve been looking at it for quite a while, and you’ve done incredible research here, but for me, I’ve had two and a half years, and I’m looking at this—the teachings of Calvinism, and so on, so I have a pretty good understanding about what they teach, what they promote, but again, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily. Dave, I read the Bible, I go through…I do Bible studies, I read the Bible to my kids, and I find it stunning. Now this mentioned…this questioner talked about a seminary, and there are lots of brilliant evangelicals out there who believe this. Now, here’s the rub for me. These brilliant evangelicals who are into this, I don’t know how they understand things when they read through the Bible. For example, you just mentioned Romans, and I’m looking at Romans, chapter 1, verse 20. Dave, it talks about God’s invisible attributes are obvious to those.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Through the creation.
Tom: Through the creation, but then it says “they are without excuse.” Now Dave, reconcile that for me, if you will. How can somebody be predestined to hell by God before creation ever took place, on the one hand, and how can they be without excuse on the other hand?
Dave: Well, Tom, the Calvinist would say we’re all guilty, and we have rejected God’s offer, even though that’s the way He created us, like Adam and Eve in the garden were without excuse. They disobeyed God, and yet the Calvinist would say God caused them to disobey Him, because, you see, for a Calvinist, nothing can happen that is not according to God’s will and His eternal decree—so that you cannot violate God’s sovereignty. Everything that man does, including his sin, his wickedness, his worst thoughts, must be under the control of God. God must be behind it all. God must be the cause of it and it must be according to God’s will. Otherwise you would be violating God’s will.
Well, but wait a minute! People violate God’s will all the time! They disobey God continually. The world does not obey the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that breaking God’s law? Is that not going against God’s will? In Isaiah, chapter 1, it says, “God says”—and He is mourning the fact, “I have raised children; they have rebelled against me.” He talks about the Jews being rebellious, disobedient, rejecting Him, all through the wilderness.
Well, you have to say, “Wait a minute! God must have caused them to do that because they couldn’t do anything that God didn’t cause them to do, because He is sovereign.” Well, I think God was sovereign when Satan rebelled, God was sovereign when Adam and Eve rebelled. The fact that his subjects in a kingdom disobey the king does not mean he is no longer sovereign. The problem is we don’t obey God, and He has given us the power of choice so that the human experience is not a puppet show. So, we have the power of choice so we can love God from our hearts.
Tom: Dave, this comes back to the idea—just this one word, “excuse.” In other words, if God has given me everything that I need to come to Him—He’s given me the witness of creation, and so on, and I reject that. Well, then I don’t have an excuse. But at least I have an option here, and that’s my point with this. If the word is “excuse,” then there is an option. You can either receive—accept—what God has demonstrated in terms of His witness of creation, or you can reject it. And if I reject it, I am without excuse.
Dave: But the Calvinist says you were predestined to reject; you were predestined to rebel.
Tom: Okay, but Dave! Then how does “excuse” fit in here? That’s my point. Can you say that I am without excuse if I was predestined to do something? And that’s my point reading down through—as I go through the Scriptures, I find thought after thought that runs so contrary…
Dave: Of course, of course!
Tom: …and you don’t have to be brilliant, I mean, I can read and I can understand a few things.
Dave: Of course, but Tom, the Calvinist would say, “But you had the opportunity to believe.” But on the other hand, he says, “You are unable to believe, and God has predestined you not to believe, but nevertheless, it’s your fault.”
Tom: But that’s a contradiction.
Dave: It is, Tom, a contradiction, but this is the way the Calvinist reasons. Now he has an idea, a philosophy…for example, let me try to explain how it comes about.
Dave: You don’t get this teaching directly from the Word of God, but you get it by reasoning. And then, from the reasoning, you go to the Bible, and you say, “Well then, this is what it must mean.”
I’ll give you an example: The Calvinist reasons—let’s say John Owen would talk like this: “You mean to say that Christ died for everybody? Then some of Christ’s blood was shed for people who will be in hell. In fact, Spurgeon said, Well then, some of Christ’s blood was shed even for people who were already in hell before He died on the cross. Now that’s not reasonable!”
So, they began by reasoning that way. “Well then, if that’s the case, then it must not mean that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth…. It must mean that Christ came and died only for certain people, for the elect, the ones that He had predestined to heaven—so His blood was only shed for those.”
Now, the Bible doesn’t say His blood was only shed for those, and the foundation of the sacrifice of Christ, the foundation for our understanding of the gospel, is in the Old Testament. Paul says, “This is the gospel of God that he promised before by his prophets.” And even the Calvinist would acknowledge that the Passover, the Levitical sacrifices, and so forth, are a picture of the sacrifice of Christ. Well, the Passover was for every Jew. All they had to do was slay the lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorpost lintel and roast it and eat it. The Levitical sacrifices were for all of Israel. The sacrifices in the Tabernacle were for all of Israel. The Day of Atonement was for all of Israel. All of Israel passed through the Red Sea. All of Israel was delivered from Egypt.
But Christ makes it very clear in John, chapter 3. He says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If you go back to Numbers 21, you have the story. There was a rebellion, and because of the rebellion God sent fiery serpents, it says, among them, and they bit the people and the people are dying. So they come to Moses, verse 7, Numbers:21:7, and they confess, “We have sinned, we have spoken against the Lord, pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole:…” It was made out of brass. “And it shall come to pass that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live.”
Now that’s pretty clear. The bite, of course, is a type of sin. Sin has bitten these people, and they are dying—the wages of sin is death—and it very clearly says, “Everyone who has been bitten….” In other words, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If you are not a sinner, you do not qualify for salvation! If you hadn’t been bitten, you wouldn’t need the rescue from the venom, and so forth. “Everyone who has been bitten, when he looks upon the serpent shall live.” Okay, now that is very clear. I don’t think any Calvinist would dare to say that the serpent was lifted up on the pole only for a select few, only for certain elect, only for an elect group among the Jews. All right? You could never, ever establish that from the Old Testament.
Well then, listen to what Jesus said: John:3:14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:” It’s amazing! The serpent—Jesus—we don’t understand it, Tom. I certainly do not understand it, but He became the very thing that had bitten us. God made Him to be sin for us—He who knew no sin, and you have the picture in the serpent. The serpent was the one that bit them—this was the very sin that bit them. Well, it was because of their sin, but this was a picture of what their sin had done. It had separated them from God and brought eternal death, judgment, upon them. So, Christ, when He is lifted up on the Cross, He’s like that serpent. He is the very sin itself. He takes sin for us. He takes the judgment that God required for sin for us. And, whosoever looks to Him will live. So, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Tom: Dave, I remember an interview you had with two pastors. These were Calvinist pastors, and you asked them a simple question. What about the first verse that most children learn: “For God so loved the world”? God so loved the world, not the elect, God so loved the world that whosoever should believe on him…. And you said, “What’s wrong with that? Are you going to tell these children that they’ve got it wrong?”
And they said, “Yes, they got it wrong.” Unbelievable!
Dave: Because they don’t understand the original Greek. The word there is cosmos, and on and on it goes. Well anyway, Tom, it’s a tragedy, and many people are embracing this idea. Not only this, I presume, young man who had this problem, I think this is a teaching that, well, John Wesley said, “It’s repugnant to the human conscience. It would turn people away from God.” I believe that God loves everybody. He wants everyone in heaven. He’s not willing that any should perish. First Timothy 2:4,5: “He would have all men to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The Calvinist says, “No, no, that means all kinds of men, aborigines, and Europeans, and rich and poor. No, that is not what it says. He wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth. He does not want anyone to perish.
Tom, if you could save every person in this earth, wouldn’t you do it?
Dave: I surely would. And Paul, in Romans, chapter 9, said he was even willing to go to hell if it would save his brethren the Jews.
Tom: But I couldn’t coerce them, I couldn’t force them.
Dave: That’s right, but God is not willing? No, the Bible says that He is willing that all go to heaven; He wants all to go to heaven. The Calvinist says, “No, for His good pleasure, He predestined certain ones to hell, and they have no chance—there is nothing they can do about it.”
I don’t believe that that’s the God of the Bible, and that’s why I titled that book that I just wrote on Calvinism, What Love Is This?, and you came up with the subtitle: Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God. I believe it is a misrepresentation of the God of the Bible, who is Love and who gave His Son to pay the penalty for the sins of the world so that all could be saved.
Tom, I began by saying how they reason this out because you couldn’t have some of Christ’s blood shed for people who would be in hell. But you can’t divide Christ’s blood up and say some was shed for this person, this drop for that person—all of the blood of Christ had to be shed to pay for Adam’s sin. This is the Lamb of God! Behold, the Lamb of God that bears away the sin of the world. So the penalty for sin, the rebellion of all mankind, had to be paid for, for anyone to be forgiven. So you can’t divide Christ’s blood up and say, “Well some of His blood would be shed in vain.” That people are in hell, for whom Christ died, is their fault. They rejected the salvation God offered.
Tom: Dave, I don’t understand it. My assumption—simple-minded assumption—is, when Christ’s blood is shed, it means that He died. It is an indication—there is life in the blood. No blood, He is dead.
Dave: There couldn’t have been any blood left in His veins, okay? Whether it was even one person that He died for.