Posted By Thomas Perez. October 11, 2010 at 10:31pm. Copyright 2010
Rebuttal of Chapter 24
Perhaps of the whole book, this is the one chapter that many became mislead into believing a half hearted truth. In response to Calvin’s 8th citation, “The expression of our Savior, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” (Mt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of as ever condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.
Calvin’s view as in the “Many are called, but few are chosen” has been dealt with in reference to chapter 22. However, Calvin in this instance; uses other citations of Scripture to procure his rendering regarding his interpretation of this particular verse of Scripture. While he admits to a universal call in regards to inviting all men, he also admits that this call is also designed to administer condemnation to those individuals he deems as ‘the doomed.‘ The verse is taken from Matthew’s Gospel (Ch 22:1-14), pertaining to the parable of the wedding feast. Here Calvin fails to explain Jesus’ target audience (the nation of Israel as a whole). It was revealed earlier that the builders, (the children of Abraham) rejected the chief cornerstone – Jesus – and did not recognize His day. Therefore, as recorded in Matt 21:43 the Kingdom was taken away from them and given to the other nations. Similarly, in the same Gospel we have the parable of the Vineyard were the same phase is found, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Both parables indicate a “who will listen message and heed” – Matt 22:10 and 20:8-16. In Matt 20:8-16, the latter (and the key word is latter), received the same wages that the earlier laborers received. Thus, we can interpret the two parables as salvation in its proper and perspective orders (I Cor 15:20-23). Moreover, in light of this background, God proclaimed a new covenant with all men while making void the Old covenant of the law and that of its cultural society better known as national Israel. That is not to say the law was abolished, for it is written that the law is good (Rom 7:16). But yet it is revealed that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Rom 3:20). What then serves the purpose of the law? This is wonderfully answered in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In Galatians 3:19 – it (the law) was added because of transgressions. Are transgressions limited to only the Israelites? To answer this question we must look outside national Israel.
When we look outside national Israel, we see similarities in cultural morality. Moreover, and this is most vital, governing laws were very similar to each other in one from or another as seen in the Hittite treaties, Assyrian treaties, and the code of Hammurabi, thus indicating their own unique need to see their transgressions as well. Yet in so doing, such nations became polytheistic in religious form, worship, and cultural identification. While this was taking place, others remained faithful to the concept of a monotheistic God. This is why it is stated that all the nations that reject God shall be cast away – this is in reference to a culture’s ideology, systems of government, and vain religious beliefs. In reference to the individuals that make up the culture and society, they would be judged on individual merits in the coming ages (Rev 20), providing that they did not perceive the message of the Evangel in reference to this present age of salvation. Individuals will be resurrected, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan 12). However, in LIGHT of the many various passages of Scripture that indicates ultimate reconciliation, how are we to interpret the word “everlasting?” When at the same time it is revealed in Scripture that the unrighteous will be purified after judgment? For more on the word ‘everlasting’ please see my study called ‘Eon: A Limited Duration.
Upon this, a brief note on historical findings should be considered. Archaeological findings indicate the human race as starting with a belief in one God and from that there was a rapid decline into polytheism and idolatry which later developed. This has been verified in inscriptions found by Dr. Stephan Langdon of Oxford University in pre-flood layers of early Babylon. Moreover, Sir Flinders Petrie found indications that Egypt’s first religion was monotheistic. Leading anthropologists have recently announced that among all primitive races there was a belief in one supreme God (see Dr. Schmidt’s, ‘Origin and Growth of Religion’ – Facts and Theories). Such a culture (as in the Hebrews) were chosen to be elected of God, BUT NOT because of their belief system, but because God had favored Abraham, as He did Noah. And upon this favor God called Abraham and made of him a nation in whose seed shall all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Such blessings and cursing were contingent upon the law, as revealed by Moses.
While the Hebrews were judged by the law, the Gentiles were judged by their suppression of the mentally perceived truth of God (as in His creation. See Rom 1:19-20). The Gentiles rejected the obvious and became polytheistic, vain, and boastful. In the prophets and the Gospels, we see their (Jews) rejection of the Christ in favor of the law. A law that revealed transgressions (Rom 2). This rejection or blindness has come for the salvation of the Gentiles in this age. We must remember that the Jews, on several occasions, were accused of shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven against men (Matt 23). It was also for this reason God had rejected Israel because they became pompous as to their own election, thereby deeming the law of Moses far better than the riches of Christ, who is the fulfillment of the law – and by shutting the ‘have not’s’ out by declaring God’s personal favor toward them. Such is the case of the rich man and Lazarus parable, the vineyard parable, and the wedding parable. Yet in Romans 3, Paul makes no distinction between Jew or Gentile in his citation that “all have sinned!” and all are in need of a Saviour, be it Jew or Gentile. Be it elect or heathen.
For indeed many were called and are still called, but few are chosen. This calling is in reference to specific Jews who would believe. Indeed many in national Israel was called, but not chosen to be an evangel of this age – this phrase is a direct link to the concept of, “the last shall be 1st and the 1st shall be last.” This view is also confirmed in Matt 13:22-30, when Jesus spoke of the narrow way. However, Calvin makes a ditch effort to compare similar findings with that of a fatalistic non-election to salvation when referring to Judas in section 9. In section 9 Calvin quotes John 6:70, “Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” For further understanding, let us look into other passages of Scripture.
These passages relate to the sin of Judas, and its consequences. Acts 1:16-18. “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and hath obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and, falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” Matt. 26:24. “Woe unto that man by whom the son of man is betrayed; it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Mark 14:21.“Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed; good were it for that man if he had never been born.” John 17:12. “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Acts 1:25. “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” John 6:70. “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Matt 27:3-5. “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that; and he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
Surely if any person’s final punishment should be taught in the Bible, that of Judas should be explicitly stated. Is it? None of the terms employed of him teach any such doctrine. As we come to understand their meaning, we see that while they characterize his wickedness, and describe his punishment, they confine it to this world. Besides, the Bible declares, “the Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake concerning Judas,” that it was “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” that Jesus was delivered up, and “by wicked hands crucified and slain.” Acts 2:23.
To believe that Judas was consigned to endless torment for doing what must be done in consequence of God’s determinate counsel and foreknowledge, is to accuse the Almighty of an act that would blast his name with infamy. Unless, of course one were persuaded by the Pelagian or Arminian point of view. Now do the terms used of Judas allow us to regard him as outside the pale of mercy, or beyond God’s power to restore and save? Similarly, the phrase “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.”- John 17:12. “Kept” and “lost” are here employed antithetically. The eleven were “kept,” by remaining true, and Judas was “lost” out of the apostleship. He was lost as all men were, for Christ came to “save that which was lost.” The language has no reference to his final condition, but to his then present state.
Judas is called “the son of perdition,” John 17:12; the apostle speaks of those “who draw back unto perdition,” Heb. 10:39; and of “the perdition of ungodly men,” II Pet. 3:7; and the Revelator, 17:8-11 declares that certain ones are destined to perdition. What is the meaning of this word, (apoleia)? It is the same word found in the following passages: Matt. 7:13, “broad is the way that leadeth to ‘destruction‘;” Acts 8:20, “Thy money perish with thee;” II Pet. 2:1, “shall bring in damnable heresies; 2, “follow their pernicious ways;” 3, “their damnation slumbereth not;” Matt. 26:8, “to what purpose this waste of the ointment? Acts 25:16, “it is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die.” It is found twenty times in the New Testament, and is translated destruction, waste, perdition, die, damnable and pernicious. Its meaning is never endless torment; but it denotes loss, waste, etc.
In Heb. 10:39: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul;” the meaning is that the disciples would not experience the destruction about to overtake the wicked people of those times. This is the view given by orthodox commentators. Wakefield: “But we are not they who withdraw unto destruction, but who faithfully persevere, to the deliverance of our lives.” Clarke.-”We are not cowards who slink away, and notwithstanding, meet destruction; but we are faithful, and have our souls saved alive. The words peripoiesis psuche signify the preservation of life. See the note Ephesians 1:11. He intimates that, notwithstanding the persecution was hot, yet they managed to escape with their lives.” Lightfoot.-”As Christ’s pouring down his vengeance in the destruction of that city and people, is called his ‘coming in his glory,’ and his ‘coming in judgment;’ and as the destruction of that city and nation is characterized, in Scripture, as the destruction of the whole world, so there are several passages that speak of the nearness of that destruction, that are suited according to such characters. Such as that in I Cor. 10:11, ‘Upon whom the ends of the world are come;’ I Pet. 4:7, ‘The end of all things is at hand’; Heb. 10:37, ‘Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. As “son of thunder” in the New Testament meant an eloquent man, and “son of peace,” a peaceable man, so “son of perdition” denotes one abandoned to wickedness.
Judas was lost, was a son of perdition, because of his great wickedness. He was lost out of the Apostleship, but nothing indicates that his loss was final. The best critics of other churches give this view. Whitby: – “And none of them is lost; i.e., either by temporal death (John18:9) or by falling off from me, but the son of perdition, i.e., Judas, worthy of perdition. So a son of death is worthy of it, and similarly; ethnos apoleias is a nation fit to be destroyed. Also, in reference to Eccl 16:9; Matt 23:15, and the note on Eph 2:2; Rosenmuller – “No one is ignorant that Judas is here the intended betrayer of Christ, and who had fallen off from him. Apoleia, (perdition) therefore, as the preceding words teach, in this place, seems to indicate a defection from Jesus, the teacher; as in II Thess. 2:3, where the phrase ho uhios amartias, (the son of transgression) and is used concerning a noted impostor, who persuaded many to a defection from the Christian religion.”
There is nothing in the use of the word perdition to insinuate that it means more than loss. In fact, the more utterly he was lost the more certain he is to experience the saving power of Christ, who came to “seek and save that which was lost, Matt. 18:11; “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” 10:6. The prodigal son, the piece of silver, and the hundredth sheep were lost, but all these were found. their being lost was the sole reason why they were sought and saved from their perilous condition. We have “all gone astray like lost sheep,” but the lost shall be found, and “there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
The word apollumi is the word usually rendered lost and lose, and it is also translated destroy, perish, and marred.” Lord, save us, we ‘perish‘,” Matt. 8:25; “Go, rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matt. 10:6; “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it,” Mark 8:35; “I have found my sheep, which was lost,” Luke 15:6; “There shall not a hair of your head perish,” Luke 21:18, are instances of the use of the word. As applied to the soul it means a condition of sinfulness. Matt 10:6, “The lost sheep of the house of Israel;” 18:11, “The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.” But nothing is more distinctly taught than that Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost, will continue his work until he finds them. There is no final loss in the New Testament.
In reference to Calvin’s citation of Gregory being grievously and perniciously in error when he says, “We are conscience only of our calling, but are uncertain of our election” as cited in (Gregory. Hom. 38), nothingcan not be further from the truth. But I say, what saith the Scriptures? “We are to make our calling and election sure.” (II Pet 1:10). Perhaps a better understanding of Gregory is necessary. Gregory made two major contributions to Christian theology. The first is his doctrine of the Trinity (a concept I tend to disagree with in ref to Monarchianism – Jesus being the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Trinity is a development of the theology of Basil and their mutual friend Gregory Nazianzus. The second is his spiritual theology, which posited God as infinite and salvation as potentially universal (Apokatastasis). The thought that the Western interpretation that Gregory of Nyssa taught or endorsed Apokatastasis is disputed by Eastern Theologians as incorrect is refuted in ‘Life After Death’ by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. The views of the interpreters of the position of St. Gregory of Nyssa as to the restoration of all things is indicated. What Calvin failed to deliver was an accurate picture of Gregory and the sum of his beliefs.
According to Gregory, If all are to be reconciled onto God; why would he (Gregory) suspend election for the merit of works as insinuated by Calvin? Moreover, Calvin cites that while at the same time he (Gregory) did not lead them (us) away from themselves to confidence in divine goodness, he is unable to confirm them. I say again, what saith the Scriptures? “By their fruit, you shall know them.” (Matt 7:16, 20). Fruit of this kind can be only be found in good works, virtue, and praise. It is a by product of salvation, not the means. Similarly, the book of James indicates this also, “Faith without works is dead.” “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26). Again, as cited before…virtue is unobtainable, but yet possible to aspire to in relation to the fruits of the Spirit in connection to Christ.
In reference to Calvin’s citation regarding the ‘Book of Life’, leaves much to be desired, since Calvin really makes no attempt to elaborate. In this instance, he only quotes three passages of Scripture (Ezek 13:9, Psalms 69:28, and Luke 10:20). Calvin insinuates that Gregory; and those who upheld his views, were indicating that God was beginning to, at some point; write the names of those whom He counted among His people in the Book of Life – in reference to the writings of the house of Israel – Ezek 13:9. Moreover, the passage pertaining to Ezek 13:9 is in reference to ungodly false prophets (13:1-9) and has nothing to do with what is called the Book of Life, but rather the books that were to be yet recorded for posterity – as in the Chronicles and histories pertaining to the house of Israel. Upon this we will note carefully that Calvin cites Luke 10:20, affirming his doctrinal position regarding predestination, – that the names of the children of God were written in the Book of Life from the very beginning.
However, a paradox comes to mind. In reference to Psalms 69:10 “Let them be blotted out of the Book of the Living, and not be written with the righteous,” a paradox is found in Calvin’s Tulip (the 5 points of Calvinism). If one were to assume the last 5th point, (perseverance of the saints) as doctrinal, then how can an individuals name be blotted out at the same time? Wouldn’t that require an individuals name to be recorded therein first, be elected, and chosen, in order to be blotted out in the first place? Unless one can indeed fall from grace as in the case of Judas losing his ministry (Acts 1), and unless one can lose his salvation. Can a name be truly blotted out of the book of life thus causing one to lose his salvation? Calvin does not explain this properly or perhaps I’m overseeing a concept. Perhaps a definition of the phrase is warranted…
“Perseverance of the saints:” Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints. The doctrine asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return. The word “saints” is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in Heaven.
While the concept of “never having true faith to begin with” can apply, it is the apparent contradiction that Calvin does not expound upon that calls for further examination. He is quick to quote the verse, but gives no explanation to the phrase “blotted out” Remember, one’s name must be recorded first in order to be blotted out. While it is recorded that the true saints of God are adopted, sealed, and kept unto the day of redemption, many can indeed fall away as the Scriptures reveal. Does this mean that one can lose their salvation as asked before? The answer to that question appears to be a resounding ‘yes.’ For such a salvation can be lost in this lifetime, but one is never truly ultimately lost in reference to ultimate reconciliation, other wise we would have a Gospel contingent upon works, and not faith (Eph 2:8-9, Titus 3:5). For it is written in the Scriptures that Christ died for all men, especially those that believe – (those whose names are written in the Book of Life – the Elect). Moreover, it is the faith of Christ that saves us. Our faith that is generated through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, signifies faith already established in the work of Christ. As a result men act upon this faith by producing fruit worthy of repentance – thus proving their election. When one falls away, a loss is incurred. Such truth is found in the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-8).
Every branch is said to be in Christ. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” to speak of a Christian’s legal and family position as a result of God’s grace. Fruit is the result of a process. Such is also the case of believers. The term “Takes away” has to do with lifting the branch to promote better growth. “Prunes” means “cleanses.” Once the fruit is on the vine, the vinedresser cleanses the fruit of bugs and diseases. The spiritual counterpart is cleansing which is done through the Word (vs 3). For the branch to produce more fruit, it must abide, which means to dwell, to stay, to settle, to sink deeper. The way to abide in Christ is to obey (John 15:10, I John 3:24, 5:18). The believer who lovingly obeys the Word of God produces much fruit. Apart from Christ, a believer cannot accomplish anything of permanent spiritual value.
Not abiding in Christ has serious consequences: 1. The person is cast out as a branch, indicating loss of fellowship; 2. The person is withered, indicating a loss in vitality; 3. The person is burned, indicating a loss of reward, fiery trials as a result of disobedience, a cutting off of one’s physical life, or the fire at the judgment seat of Christ. (II Cor 3:11-15, I Pet 1:7, 4:12, I Cor 5:1-5). Then How are we to know as believers whether or not we have eternal life? How are we to know if our names are written in the Book of Life? The admonishment by the Apostle John puts this question to rest. In I John 5:13, it is recorded that we are to know that we have eternal life. While this verse supports “perseverance of the saints”, yet the concept of “perseverance” does not co-inside with the word “abide”, as John indicates in earlier chapters (2:9-10, 3:24). Therefore, “perseverance” is a by product of “abiding.” Perseverance is the end result of abiding in Christ. And abiding in Christ entails good works, good fruit, and obedience to the call of Christ (Pro 24:12, Acts 26: 20, James 1:22, 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24-25).
Yet while abiding, showing, and doing good works in Christ are evidence’s of one’s salvation, it is by no means the result of that call, election, or faith…as Paul indicates in (Rom 4:2, 6, 9:11, Gal 2:16, and Eph 2:10). It is therefore of the utmost importance that we make our calling and election sure (II Pet 1:10), otherwise we suffer the perils of not progressing (Heb 6:1-6). Such was the case of Judas – son of perdition. Judas was not to be renewed again, for he sinned willfully after he had received the knowledge of the truth (Acts 1:17, Heb 10:26-31).
However, and this is most vital; Judas’s sin came while under the law of Moses, for Moses had prophesied about the Christ. Yet, Christ was not yet lifted up, therefore according to Hebrews 10:28 – anyone caught in idolatry was to be put to death by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut 17:2-7). In reference to Judas, it was the love of money that became his downfall to idolatry. It was the testimony of the prophets found in the Scripture’s that witnessed against him, and it was the testimony of Christ Himself that was revealed as a witness against him “One of you is a devil” “What you must do, do it quickly” (John 6:70, 13:27). Moreover, we can possibly add a 4th witness, the witness of himself. For it is written that he “repented,” “I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matt 27:3-4). The Greek word for “repented” here is “metamorhoo” which comes from the root word to “transform” , change, transfigure. Therefore, as indicated above , the fate of Judas indicates a loss suffered, not a final outcome. For in this was Christ glorified (John 13:31). As indicated before, Judas did sin willfully, in this there is no doubt. But as to the means of this willful falling away, Calvin is unsure of; as he was in the case of Esau. It would appear again that in this instance, there was a freewill model of sorts. Again, this freewill model is not in reference to salvation, as Calvin insinuates in his ‘Institutes’, and by which he is correct; but it is in reference to maintaining a calling of election – in this he errors by not recognizing the concept of a restored freewill after salvation.
Also, I might add that it is important to remember the other Apostles. All the Apostles (except for John) had forsaken Christ. But, two in particular come to mind; that of Peter and Thomas. For Peter denied Jesus 3 times, wouldn’t that be warranted a falling away? While Thomas denied the power of the risen Christ, wouldn’t that entail what is called “denying the power thereof?” While in the case of Judas, it was the act of betrayal that sealed his destiny in this life. Howbeit, if Judas had not committed suicide, he to would have been restored into the ministry of Apostleship and would have been given his portion of the Holy Spirit. But this was not to be the case as recorded in Acts 1:20 “Let another take his office”. Judas’s call, was a call of defection, for it is written, “Satan entered him.”
In this instance we learn that as in the day of Job, Satan tempting him from without (the Accuser) also known as the Adversary; entered Judas from within. Some would object to this and claim that Judas was always a devil as recorded in John 6:70. If this assumption is true, how can Satan, cast out Satan? Since it is recorded that the Apostles (including Judas did cast out devils) – Luke 9:1-6. Others will further cite Matthew 7:21-22 “Lord did we not cast out devils in your name, But I (Christ) will turn to them and tell them, “Depart from me, ye who practice lawlessness, I never knew you”. In reference to this particular verse of Scripture, one must realize the importance of a true disciple or believer in Christ.
A true believer in Christ Jesus will always do the will of the Father, while others who profess Christ by tongue and not by deed will perform such miracles by invoking the name of Christ – such was the case of Judas. Satan had not entered him during the sending out of the twelve, therefore he was indeed “abiding”, But only at particular moments, as it is written, “the poor you always have with you, but for Me you do not”. Therefore, it can be said that Judas, became the product of his own restored freewill and doings, thus becoming the seed that fell among thorns; becoming unfruitful as in the parable of the Sower and True Vine; while yet obeying the predetermined counsel of God though the power of the Adversary (Mark 4:1-9, 13-20, John 15:1-8).
Some may argue, that by claiming the predetermined counsel of God is also staking claim to the fact that God chooses whom He desires to have destined to perdition. While this may sound accurate, it does not fit with the overall theme of the Scriptures pertaining to the Gospel of the Good News! It would appear that Genesis 3:15 had to be fulfilled, the Devil had to have been given permission to enter Judas; fulfilling the age old enmity that raged on between the seed of the Messiah and the seed of the serpent. In this case Judas was merely the means to accomplish this. Some may also argue, “Why judge him then?” The answer to that question lies within Judas’s restored freewill, of which he violated. While not bringing about the foreknowledge of God, as a thing contingent upon a freewill model; but fulfilling God’s foreknowledge of a violation of a restored freewill!
Moreover, it is also confirmed according to Romans 3:1-7, that God is not unjust in inflicting wrath, because He inflicts such wrath based upon our words (and actions) so that we may overcome when we are judged! Such a wonderful verse of complexity and Parental love! Therefore, as a result Judas was judged by losing his office, falling away, and losing his present life, as indicated would happen to anyone not “abiding.” Yet he did not know what he was doing or at the very least realize his mistake, until it was too late, the Holy Spirit had not yet descended. And since he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, it is my belief that upon this Christ forgave him (I speak of this in the future tense) and will forgive him (I speak of this in the present future tense). Did not the Christ proclaim, “love your enemies?” “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?”
As promised, the explanation of the word “Everlasting” will be discussed in Part 6, but only as a definition of the word