Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are available. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of this new booklet. To order copies of Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? click here.
Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be?
By David Dombrowski
When I was a boy, about eight years old, a stranger in a Safeway grocery store parking lot gave my mother a plaque he had cast of plaster of paris that bore the words, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). Mom had a special devotion to the Lord because as a child of about twelve years of age, after losing both her parents to mushroom poisoning, she knelt alone in a small chapel in Poland and invited Jesus into her heart. This was not something she was told to do but rather something she longed to do that she might have the life-long companionship of God in a world that had enclosed her with loneliness. There was something unique about her relationship with God in that it was somewhat spontaneous and very personal, though she had been raised in the Catholic Church where being Catholic meant going to Mass and receiving Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Her strong belief in Jesus being the Son of God giving His life on the Cross for the sins of the world always burned in her heart as she knew Him as her personal Savior—sadly, something most Catholics miss due to the Catholic Church’s misrepresentation of the Gospel. And, like most Catholics, I too missed the meaning of the true Gospel (a gift entirely from God that offers redemption fully and salvation freely to all who put their trust in Christ).
My mother hung that plaque on our wall, and it became a witness to me that God was available and desired to have a personal relationship with me. At the age of 22, while serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, I too invited Jesus into my heart knowing He had died for all my sins and was inviting me into a new life with Him.1
Some years after my mother had received Christ in Poland as a young girl, she received word from her uncle in Portland, Oregon that he very much wanted her to live with him until she could establish herself on her own. He made all the arrangements for her to cross the Atlantic to New York harbor and from there to go by train to Portland, Oregon (where she would later meet my father). Shortly after her excursion from Poland, Hitler’s troops invaded the country; chances are great that she may have never survived the war if she had stayed because the area in Poland where she grew up was closely bordering Germany. But God knew, and He provided the way of escape.
Ironically, fifty years after my mother received the Lord, I was in Germany and likewise invited Jesus into my heart and within that year, having completed my service in the military, returned home to Portland, Oregon.
While in Germany, I too encountered some life-threatening challenges, but God delivered me from these dangers. Looking back, I can see His handiwork in my life. I can only affirm that God is love and God is faithful. As Jeremiah declared during a most turbulent time in Jewish history:
It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They [His mercies] are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The True Nature or a Distorted View of God
One thing I have learned in my walk with the Lord is that it is crucial that we attribute to God His very nature because we, as believers, take on the shape of our depiction of God. John Calvin depicted God as a monster, and he himself became a monster. Read the bio of his theology, life, and ministry, and you will see this is true.2 It is both fortunate and conversely unfortunate that our view of God has a way of shaping us. There is a danger to the hardening of the heart that can occur if we entertain our minds with depictions of God that are not real. The resulting damage to the soul can be extreme as the Psalmist declares:
With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. (Psalm 18:25-27)
God will bring down high looks, but He will bless those who bless Him, who esteem Him, and who attribute to Him His true nature. And to view God as an unloving hard-hearted deity or the author of sin (as John Calvin did) is nothing short of blasphemy.
A Powerful Yet Dangerous System
Calvinism is perhaps the most powerful force sweeping through the church today as it has been revived as never before—now promoted in most Bible colleges and seminaries. We often hear from proponents of Calvinism that the reason they embrace Calvinism is because it is the one thing that offers a full assurance of salvation, but the only true assurance of salvation is in knowing that God is faithful to His Word.
Even though the word “predestination” is not used in the Bible to directly signify salvation (I will explain this later), John Calvin used it to formulate a gospel of complete assurance. His idea was that God has already decided who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell, and there is nothing anyone (including yourself) can do about it. This, in one sense, is very comforting if you can know that you are among the “elect.” But the problem is that, while this may seem very comforting to the novice, Calvinist scholars understand, as did John Calvin himself, that this “belief” system actually offers no true assurance at all because it is impossible to know if you are among the elect. The only thing you can be sure of with this system is that if you are “predestined for Hell,” you are sure to go there because that is God’s “pleasure,” and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
It is interesting to note here that the Hegelian Formula (a branch of philosophy) states that when a thesis (an idea) is combined with an anti-thesis (a counter idea), the resulting synthesis achieves a higher level of truth; but with Christianity, when truth is mixed with error or light with darkness, the resulting grey matter is very dangerous as Harry Ironside pointed out:
Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.3
I fear for the church of today; and I think that perhaps at the present moment Calvinism may be the greatest danger because, just as Ironside describes, it looks very innocent. In fact, over the years Calvinism has been building momentum as its leaders have grasped the Olympic torch of academia and “biblical” scholarship and run with it. Consequently, many who are looking for a deeper and biblical walk with the Lord are embracing it, which Bible colleges and seminaries are welcoming with open arms. Indeed, many of today’s biblical scholars are Calvinists who like to quote John Calvin’s axiom sola scriptura to maintain that truth is found only in the Scriptures.
However, the sad truth about John Calvin is that while he was correct in asserting that spiritual truths need to be derived solely from Scripture, his life and ministry (theology) largely contradicted the Bible. In life, he started his own inquisition in Geneva where he was directly or indirectly involved with the tortuous deaths of dozens of people, whose crimes were to disagree with his convoluted teachings. Among those whom he most hated were the Anabaptists who disagreed with his practice of infant baptism. His theology was excised largely, not from Scripture but from the writings of Augustine (a Greek philosopher turned Christian). While Augustine did much to reshape biblical Christianity into what became the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and the foundations of Medieval thought, John Calvin hopped the train of the Reformation and embedded in it the doctrines of his tainted thinking.
Before I go any further, please allow me to offer my observations on philosophy, having been a student of philosophy myself. Oftentimes, philosophers will frown at Christianity as lacking logic. In the case of Augustine having formerly been a Greek philosopher, he thought he could use his skills of logic to reformulate Christianity into its various doctrines expressed in a logical and orderly manner. But the problem is not that Christianity is illogical but that we typically lack the insight to tackle spiritual matters using earthly logic. Even Paul, whom I consider to be the greatest theologian of all time, spoke of his own understanding when he said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Paul found great wisdom and insight in Christianity though he had formerly persecuted the church. When he encountered the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill,4 they were much entertained by his thinking, but they could never wrap their minds around the simplicity of the Gospel. That is why Paul could say,
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:18-30)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
The real problem the philosophers of Paul’s time had was not that they were too smart for Paul but that the one and true God who created everything was, in their case “THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom . . . ye ignorantly worship” (Acts 17:23); and most of them were too proud to really hear Paul. Pride has a way of stopping the ears of the proud while the humble have ears to hear: “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed” (Acts 17:34). The folly of the proud was that they trusted in their own wisdom, making their skills at reason and dialogue their own god and final authority.
As far as we can know, Calvin most likely never came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, too, fell under the spell of exalting his own reasoning above the truth of the Gospel while looking to the writings of Augustine to confirm his errant thought to be true. Although he considered himself to be a humble man, his ruthless and demonic way of treating Christians who disagreed with his thinking reflects a whole other side to John Calvin that Calvinists would want to dismiss, but this is also at the peril of countless people who look to Calvinism to secure their own salvation. Consider, for example, some words Calvin addressed to God in his will shortly before he died in 1564:
I testify also and profess that I humbly seek from God, that He may so will me to be washed and purified by the great Redeemer’s blood, shed for the sins of the human race, that it may be permitted me to stand before His tribunal under the covert of the Redeemer Himself.5 (italics in original; underline added)
Though he here refers to himself as “humbly” seeking God for his own salvation, the words “that He may so will me” betray the contradictory and fatalistic nature of Calvin’s belief and conduct. While he acknowledges the efficacy of Jesus’ death on the Cross for the sins of mankind, he refuses to recognize its availability to all as revealed in all of Scripture, particularly the Gospels.
Consider, for example, how Jesus, in speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, referred to the salvation He was offering as water freely given—as “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). The Jewish religious leaders of the day frowned upon the Samaritans, and the path to Heaven they offered was paved with many obstacles and burdens too heavy to carry. Sadly, and as Paul warned would happen, the apostate “Christian” church soon followed after them, placing heavy yokes upon believers and distorting the truth of the Gospel. It wasn’t that long before the Roman Catholic Church began to form, claiming that Peter had been their first pope and absorbing much of the teachings and doctrines, not from the Bible, but from so-called “church fathers” and mystics who received much of their inspiration from mind-altering techniques borrowed from the east.6
This abandonment of the Scriptures led, as we should expect, not to revival but to a period in Western history known by terms such as “the middle ages,” “the medieval period,” or “the dark ages.” This was also a period of history when the Scriptures were withheld from the people and only spoon-fed by the clergy, who were deemed the only ones able to properly interpret the Bible. This period was marked by crusades conducted with sword and spear and inquisitions conducted under papal authority by fire and unbelievable tortures. The demons laughed as they witnessed the fruit of their labors. Long forgotten were Scriptures like 1 John 4:8 that says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Ironically, Calvin, who claimed to be a reformer, followed suit and became what was known as “the Protestant Pope” with a reputation spanning continental Europe, though his treatment of humanity was brutal.
Words nearly fail me to express my heart-felt sense of dismay and urgency at the tremendous loss to the true Gospel reaching the hearts of God’s people.
As a Christian, there are two things that concern me most greatly. The first, as it should be, is for the Gospel to reach the unsaved as it really is, unpolluted by human “wisdom” and innovations. The second is for Christians to recognize how much of what we call “the church” has diverged from the truth and simplicity of the Gospel.
I don’t question that there are a good number of Catholics (like my mother) and Calvinists (who are growing exponentially in number) who are truly saved, but they are saved only because they have put their trust in Jesus who shed His blood at Calvary to redeem us and cleanse us from all sin. But I fear for those who have never actually put their faith in Christ for His free gift of salvation—simple and uncomplicated—but have exchanged it for burdensome religion founded on earthly logic and philosophical reasoning. As a former Catholic, I know all too well that the Catholic version of the Gospel is not founded on the one-time sacrifice of Christ at Calvary (as described in chapters 9 and 10 in Hebrews) and received by faith alone but on the works-based sacraments, in particular the sacrament of the Eucharist where Christ is re-sacrificed daily at the altar as a “non-bloody sacrifice.” This sacrament offers a way to earn the free gift of salvation. All of this is contradictory to the Scriptures and to true logic.
Likewise, Calvinism requires that the Scriptures be altered to create its own version of the Gospel. In a nutshell, Calvinism is actually the philosophic religion of fatalism. Its chief precept is that God has unalterably predetermined who will go to Heaven or Hell. Its formulation is philosophic logic that goes like this:
Premise: God is sovereign, and everything He does is for His pleasure. If God is sovereign, then everything that happens in the universe and all of creation is His will. If everything is His will, then:
- God is the author of all good.
- God is the author of all evil.
- God is the author of sin.
- God delights in sending people to Heaven.
- God also delights in sending many more to Hell.
If all the above is true, then man can have no free will.
The reasoning, as one can see, goes on and on, which could lead us to one final conclusion: If God can only be sovereign when everything is His will, then He has given everyone absolutely no free will. He makes people sin and then punishes them in an eternal Hell for sinning—and this is all for God’s pleasure. Sadly, this is what the more seasoned Calvinists are teaching. In doing so, they are describing God to be a monster, yet I don’t know of any Calvinist who would admit to this. But, this is what they do, continually and all the time. God is insulted, even blasphemed, yet they do not seem to know they are doing it. That is delusion. It is what happens to Calvinists who have allowed human logic to overrule a heart-felt appreciation they should have for who God really is—a God of love.
Though it is claimed to be so, there is no actual eternal security in Calvinism. Just as with philosophical fatalism, Calvinistic fatalism works in the same way in that we are all doomed/chosen to what God has already ordained for us, and there is nothing we can do to change that.
The problem with Calvin’s “God” is that “He” is totally unbiblical and incomparable to the God of the Bible. According to the Bible, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5); He has never and will never sin; therefore, He cannot be the author of sin or evil. “God is love” (1 John 4:8); therefore, there is no wickedness with God. Calvin was a wicked man, having lived the life of a despot, but his wickedness was his own doing and only reflected the character of the god of his own imagination. When Calvinist teacher, A.W. Pink says that no one can resist the will of God,7 this would even mean that someone like Hitler was not able to resist God’s will and that he (Hitler) was only doing what God wanted him to do. How could God be called just and righteous for not only causing men to do evil but then condemning them for doing what they could not even control?
Calvin’s God Too Small
There is another difference between Calvin’s god and the God of the Bible: Calvin’s god is too small. His god could only be sovereign if man had no free will. The only way Calvin’s god could be sovereign would be if man were a puppet on a string with God pulling the strings. The God of the Bible is much greater and more powerful that this. He can be sovereign, even though He has given man free will, while God’s light penetrates the darkness of our world; and He is brilliant enough to work all things together for good. While the God of the Bible is big enough to be sovereign even while man has free will, Calvin’s god lacks the ability, greatness, and intelligence to do this. The more one studies Calvinism, the more apparent it becomes that to make the Calvinist scenario work, extensive alteration of not only the Scriptures but of God Himself must take place.
The foundation of one’s faith is always what’s most important, just as the foundation of a building is most critical. What is the foundation of the Christian faith? It is Jesus Himself as presented in the Gospel. The Gospel tells us that when we place our faith and trust in Christ, who paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world, God forgives us, cleanses us, and we are born again as the Holy Spirit now indwells us. This salvation is freely given because Jesus paid the price of our redemption in full, way back at Calvary. The words “New Testament” is a legal term that really means “New Covenant” whereby God inscribes His righteous nature on the tablet of our hearts in place of the tablets of stone Moses gave—which exposed the sinfulness of man’s heart but lacked the power to transform us to a godly nature.
Having been raised as a Catholic, I can see now that the foundation of my faith as a Catholic was not in trusting in the one-time sacrifice of Christ at Calvary but in the continual re-sacrificing of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist (communion) and my participation in it. There was never an altar call for me to come to receive Christ by faith and be born again because I was taught that I was already a Christian by virtue of having been baptized as a baby. Not until I was 22 did I recognize that I was lost and needed to receive Christ as my Savior. I should add, however, that while the Roman Catholic Church still adheres to salvation through participation in the sacraments with the Eucharist being the focal point of the Mass, Catholicism is gradually being transformed through mysticism and aligning itself with New Age practices and beliefs. Roman Catholicism has never claimed that one can be assured of one’s salvation. Being works based, it sees such assurance as being presumptuous and prideful. The inroads of mysticism into the church perhaps is filling that void of assurance in that New Age mysticism is pantheistic (or panentheistic) in believing that we are one with and a part of God and therefore in no need of a savior.
In the case of Calvinism, John Calvin’s foundation for the faith was his doctrine of predestination which, like the sacrament of the Eucharist, looks innocent but ends up placing a barrier between us and our ability to receive the Gospel. While the doctrine of predestination purports to offer assurance of salvation, in reality, it places doubts in the minds and hearts of people. The problem is that it is an unworthy substitute for the truth of the Gospel.
It should be noted that the word for predestination only appears four times in the Bible—in Romans 8:29 and 30 as predestinate and in Ephesians 1:5 and 11 as predestinated; and in none of these instances is it referring to the experience of salvation. In fact, Romans 8:30 draws a distinction between predestination and salvation by using separate terms: “Moreover whom he did predestinate . . . them he also justified” (emphasis added). The meaning of the word “predestination” is actually found in the word itself: God has prepared a destination for the believer—for us to be like Christ (“to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .”—Romans 8:29) and to “obtain an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11). Paul goes on to say in Ephesians, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession . . .” (Ephesians 1:13-14; emphasis added). Here Paul is using legal language to say that God has prepared a place for those who put their trust in Christ! And Jesus did say, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
There is much comfort that can be derived from a proper understanding of predestination, while Calvin’s understanding of the term plays havoc on the minds of seasoned Calvinists. Consider, for example, this confession from the late R.C. Sproul (d. 2017):
A while back I had one of those moments . . . suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?’ Let me tell you, that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.8
Sadly, R.C. Sproul was only being honest in that, having been one of the foremost Calvinist scholars of our time, he had a proper understanding of what Calvinism actually teaches. To the novice, Calvinism appears to be offering eternal security, but to the seasoned theologian, there is every reason to fear when Calvin’s god delights in sending most people to Hell; and “believing” the Gospel is seen as ineffectual to this vast number of people already doomed to Hell.
Is There Assurance of Our Salvation?
It is frightening to see how so many people who profess to be Christians are falling into the delusions that are encompassing our world today. A while back, I was questioning, what is to keep me from becoming part of a world-wide delusion? After all, Jesus Himself warned that in the last days massive delusion will sweep the Earth.
The fact is, we do need to guard our hearts, and no one is assured of getting everything right. But at the same time, we have a haven of safety in the Lord. I think the secret is to come to God as a child—that is in child-like faith and simple humility. Though the Bible warns of a massive world-wide delusion in the last days, the Bible also is filled with warnings and exhortations, both in the Old and New Testaments, to steer clear of the massive deceptions of the day. All these promptings from Scripture indicate that God does not will this deception in our lives and offers His protection to all who take refuge in Him. The Bible says, “But He giveth more grace, Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
We can, therefore, flee the deceit of the world if we flee to God. It is important to know there is one thing God magnifies even above His own name as the psalmist describes, “I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name” (Psalm 138:2).Why would God do this? Well, for God to be high above all that exists and to be fully worthy of all esteem, He must be completely faithful to all His Word and all His promises. Properly understood, this means that if you read John 3:16 and believe it, you have complete assurance in your salvation because God is completely faithful to His Word.
The Spirit of Antichrist
The history of Christianity has been marred by errant teachings. Paul predicted this would happen when he said:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)
The apostle John adds further illumination on the subject describing how the spirit of antichrist present in his day would be infused in human history before the coming of the Antichrist:
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18)
Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3)
It is valuable to know and to recognize that the spirit of antichrist has been working over the centuries. Too often, we don’t see the spirit of antichrist working because we expect to see something sensational, but the antichrist spirit is not always expressed as vehement rage and anger over Jesus Christ. The Greek prefix ante can indicate hatred and opposition, but it can also signify a substitute; and this is where the enemy can sneak in through the back door. Antichrist can be a person or a teaching that is in place of or a substitute for Christ—a false imitation Christ. Ultimately, Satan’s scheme is to take as many people to Hell as he can, so his target has always been to corrupt the Gospel and discredit Jesus Christ for who He is and His redeeming sacrifice at Calvary. This is why we have witnessed so much distortion of the simple Gospel that Jesus really does save, and He does it very well, especially in that Jesus sealed the new covenant with His own blood two thousand years ago as an irrevocable covenant. The Old Covenant required daily and yearly sacrifices pointing to the one-time perfect and complete sacrifice to come later. All this proves that our salvation is very secure when we place our hope and trust in Christ.
My mother, who passed away on July 4th, 1996, was a great witness and strength to me in the years I knew her after my return from the Army as a born-again Christian. As a young believer, it took me several years to sort out the problems with Catholicism, and I was thus not able to share much with her on its doctrinal problems before she began to develop Alzheimer’s disease. But we would talk, and she agreed that salvation is something we can only secure in an abiding relationship with Christ; she believed Jesus’ words that one must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, and even as her Alzheimer’s progressed, she remembered doing that when she invited Jesus into her heart in Poland at a young age.
During the last years of her life, she was the most powerful witness to me of God’s saving grace. Her mind was affected, but her spirit remained strong. She reached a point where she could not tell me my name nor even that I was her son. But she knew I was special to her, and she never wavered in her faith.
As the youngest in the family, I took the role of taking Mom to church. However, as I came to a greater understanding of the serious errors of Roman Catholicism, I felt increasingly more uncomfortable about taking her to a Roman Catholic church which I had come to realize was an apostate church. Having friends and family members who were Catholic, I knew if I took her to a “non-Catholic church,” they would see it as manipulating her in her weakened mental faculties. But having found a good Gospel-preaching church, I carefully explained to my mother my plan, and twice she told me she would rather go to the new church than the Catholic church. I must confess I was a bit nervous on that day when she sat, for the first time, in a Gospel-centered church. As the worship songs began, I wondered if she would be OK with it or want to leave. Then as the singing progressed, and some people were raising their hands in worship, I took a peek from the corner of my eye to see how she was doing; I then saw that her eyes were bright as she bore a smile on her face—and her hands were lifted up too!
In her final days, I truly witnessed the grace of God in her life. Having lost so much of her cognitive skills, she was totally dependent on the Lord for His saving power. Spiritually speaking, there was practically nothing she could do other than be dependent on the Lord. Yet, at the same time, she was happy and unafraid as if the Lord had taken full responsibility for the safety of her soul—and, indeed, that is exactly what He did.
Seeing what the Lord was doing in her life created for me a sharp contrast to a lot of what I was witnessing happening in the church. Christian authors were pumping out new books providing newly discovered anecdotes on how to live a successful Christian life—everywhere there was a new formula for success. My mother, who could participate in none of these “secrets,” was secure in the love of God. I’m not saying that everything written during this time was theologically wrong, but what I am saying is that, over the years, much of the church has lost its first love, and instead of being grounded in the simplicity of the Gospel and our Savior’s love, it has been looking to the latest formula or gimmick.
In all his writings from the Gospel of John to his epistles to the Book of Revelation, the apostle John expresses the assurance we have in Christ. He, like Paul and the other apostles, saw the power of the Gospel to eternally save those who put their faith in Christ. If this were not so, then John could not have penned words with such resolve as this:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:9-13; emphasis added)
God’s testimony is much stronger than that of mere men. What’s more, God has taken His own testimony and made it into a testament, a legally binding contract, sealed in His own blood, and upheld by His holy Word that He magnifies above His own name. Unfortunately, over the last two thousand years, there have been too many wolves in sheep’s clothing who have tried to defuse the power of the Gospel by saying it is insufficient or needs help (as with Catholicism in its daily “unbloody sacrifice” of the Eucharist) or superseded (as with Calvinism in its own philosophical version of fatalism). But for those who reach out to God, He is always there, for Christ has forever settled the destiny of those who place their trust in Him.
God’s grace is readily available to the humble heart as I saw in my mother’s life. I witnessed not only God’s saving power in her life but also His keeping power. May we realize that power and that blessed assurance today, for it is the power of the Gospel.
Jesus is mine
Oh what a foretaste,
Of glory divine.
To order copies of Calvinism, Catholicism, or Blessed Assurance—Which One Will It Be? click here.
- My Journey Out of Catholicism is David’s testimonial booklet. You may read it online at: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=10964.
- Bob Kirkland, Calvinism: None Dare Call It Heresy (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2018).
- Harry Ironside, Should Christians Expose Error? (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18549).
- Read Mike Oppenheimer’s booklet, Understanding Paul’s Appeal at Mars Hill (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13357).
- Norman F. Douty, The Death of Christ (Irving, TX: Williams & Watrous Pub. Co., Revised and Enlarged Edition, 1978), p. 176, citing John Calvin from F. F. Bruce’s “Answers and Questions,” Question 1331, in The Harvester (Exeter) January 1966.
- Ray Yungen, “The Desert Fathers—Borrowing From the East” (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=30353).
- A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (This theme that no one can resist God’s will is throughout Pink’s book.)
- R.C. Sproul, “Assurance of salvation” (Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries, Inc., 1989), p.20; cited from Dave Hunt’s book, What Love is This? (Bend, OR: The Berean Call, 2013, 4th edition), from chapter 29, endnote #25.
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