Basic Battle Training

Chapter 23: Calvinism

Continuing to warn of the satanic errors that kill incentive to serve the Lord, we come now to one of the deadliest of all: The insidious beliefs of Calvinism.


These folks actually believe that apart from any interaction from man’s free will, God unalterably predestines all things. That this is a powerful diversion is truly an understatement.

These fallacious teachings had nothing to do in Christianity for hundreds of years.  Only in ancient pagan religions were people taught that man’s fate was written in stone or some such. Fatalism (read: Fate…all things are pre-determined) is also a central part of the teachings of the Islam. The first to teach that believers were predestined before Creation was Augustine in the late 4th century.  Hundreds of years later the first man to teach that unbelievers are predestined to hell was Gottschalk. With this he was convicted of heresy and executed in the year 848.  In the 1500s John Calvin and other Reformers spread what they called the “doctrines of grace, and modern Predestinationism had its birth.

As with the previous chapters on diversions from the goal, this one will take time, due-diligence and study of the verses cited to properly sort out and understand.


What we are talking about here is the belief that every thought, word, deed, and sin ever committed was predetermined to happen by God before the creation of the world, and that man has no free will in the matter at all. This nonsense makes God predestinate man to sin, and then punish those men for doing something over which they had no choice. This whole idea is preposterous and flies in the face of a host of Biblical teachings. The following represent the way God actually is and operates.


God’s Word is full of “conditions” for people. As an example, His blessings are there for those who meet specific conditions, (not a predestined event apart from man’s will):

 According to the Scriptures, God’s love is likewise conditional:

God “Tests” People!

The Bible says that God “left Hezekiah that he might prove him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31).  There are many other examples in the Bible of this common truth.

The obvious question is: if all of man’s actions are already predestined and known, why does God have to test anybody?

God Repents?

There are 20 more verses throughout the pages of His Word that repeat this theme:

(See also Exodus 32:13,14; Deuteronomy 32:36; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 15:10-11,35; 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalm 106:45; 135:14; Jeremiah 26:3,13,18-19; 42:10; Hosea 11:8; Joel 2:13-14; Amos 7:3,6).

 Note: There are 7 specific verses that say God does not repent (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Jeremiah 4:28; 20:16; Ezekiel 24:14; Zechariah 8:14; Hebrews 7:21), but these do not overthrow the 20 verses that say He does repent.  Those 7 verses, understood in context, refer to a specific thing that God will not repent of: they do not mean that He will never “repent” or change His mind.

 Once again, these verses make no sense whatsoever if everything was predetermined and known before Creation.

Understanding Biblical prophecies and their fulfillment

While it may sound strange at first, a close examination of prophecies and their fulfillments in the Bible reveal that things often (in fact almost all the time) do not come out the way God had originally said they would.  A good example of this is in the book of Jonah where the prediction that Nineveh being destroyed in 40 days was nullified at the repentance of the Ninevites (Jonah 3:3,10).  Here are a few more of many examples of this interaction:

Notice also 2 other passages that give us insight into Bible prophecy and fulfillment: 2 Kings 13, and Acts 27:

These examples show that God’s predictions of the future often change based on man’s actions.

“Free Will” is clearly found in Scripture

Many verses in the Bible mention man’s free will. In fact the whole tenor of the Scriptures holds man fully accountable for his deeds.

(See also 2 Kings 17:13-14; 2 Chronicles 15:13; 24:19; Psalm 81:11; Proverbs 1:25,30; Isaiah 28:12: 30:15; 42:24; Jeremiah 13:11; 29:19; Zechariah 7:12-13; Matthew 14:5; 17:12; 22:3; Luke 10:29; 19:14; 20:46; Acts 14:13; Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 1:7; 4:17; 5:17; 6:12-13; Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 2:23; 1 Timothy 1:7; 6:9; 1 Peter 4:2; 2 Peter 3:5; compare Matthew 23:4; 26:15; 27:15,17,21; Luke 18:4; 23:8; John 5:35; 7:44; Acts 22:30; 24:27; 25:9; 27:43; 28:18; 2 Corinthians 11:32….)

Man’s free will is also an active part in salvation, as seen in the following verses:

(See also Matthew 11:14; 15:28; 19:17,21; 20:32-33; Mark 8:38; John 5:6.)

The “Will” is also intrinsically involved in the Christian life

See these verses: Matthew 20:21,26-27 = Mark 10:35-36,43-44;14:7; Luke 6:31; John 6:21,67; 15:7; Acts 16:1-3; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 7:7,32,36-3739; 11:3; 14:35; 16:12; 2 Corinthians 8:11; 12:6; Galatians 4:9,20-21; 1 Timothy 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 3:10; 3 John 10; Revelation 11:6; compare John 6:11; 7:44; 16:19; Acts 10:10; 19:31,33; Romans 13:3; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 11:12; 12:20; Galatians 3:2; Philippians 1:12; Colossians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 4:13; 1 Timothy 5:14; Philemon 13,14; Hebrews 13:18; James 2:20…

There then are also numerous examples in the Bible where God’s decrees were turned over by man’s free will. And again, many times after God pronounced judgment coming on sinners we find that they repented and, in His mercy, He cancelled the punishment.

 At times, when God predicted blessing on people they would turn from Him, and His promised blessing would thus be withheld:

(See also Deuteronomy 28:68; 1 Samuel 13:13-14; 1 Kings 11:38 with 14:10; 21:29)


Calvinists must labor to take words in the Bible and give them meanings that the God does not give them; for example:

Foreknowledge: God’s foreknowledge is mentioned in Acts 2:28; Romans 8:29; 11:2; 1   Peter 1:2.  The Calvinists would have us believe that foreknowledge is a clearly definable attribute of God that contains:

In Biblical fact the word “foreknowledge”, though it could mean these things, means none of the sort. The same Greek word (prognosis) is used in Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17.  In Acts 26 Paul makes the point that “the Jews knew me from the beginning.”  In 2 Peter we are told, “Beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware…”

In both of these verses the Greek word refers to knowledge that men have (and in the first verse, unregenerate men).  Jews, knowing Paul “from the beginning”, has nothing to do with anything supernatural: they knew Paul as they watched him grow up.

In Romans 11:1-2 we are told that God “foreknew” Israel, yet the rest of the chapter describes how the natural branches (Israel) of the olive tree were grafted out to make room for the unnatural branches (Gentiles), because of the unbelief of the Jews.  Even though the plan for a people called Israel is said to be “foreknown,” that obviously does not mean that every Jew on earth would be saved.

Acts 2:23; 4:28 and Hebrews 6:17 also mention the “determinate counsel of God.” The Greek word for “counsel” is boulomai, which is also found in 1 Timothy 2:8, where Paul said, “I will [Gk: boulomai] that men pray everywhere….”  This shows that this Greek word does not refer to something that is an irreversible Divine will (since men do not pray everywhere).

God certainly has the power to know all future events. But while this is true, He also could limit His knowledge to allow man’s free will to work. This in no way “limits” His power. In fact, that He could do such a thing even establishes it all the more! God still “knows” all the possibilities.   Playing chess with a master computer does not necessarily mean that the computer “knows” all your future moves but, like God, it does know all the possible moves and all the possible counter moves.

True Predestination”

With the above explained, there are some definite events, like the Crucifixion (and some people) that were surely predestined by God (Acts 2:23; Revelation 13:8).  But this does not mean that everything was and is predestined.  John was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb, but that does not mean that you are.

This is the big mistake that Calvinists make.  They find a verse that refers to a specific event (birth of Jacob and Esau, Pharaoh’s hard heart, the 12 apostles, Gentiles included in God’s plan, etc.), then apply that wording to all events.  This is a dishonest use of Scripture. It contradicts the weight of the overwhelming majority of Scriptures where God rebukes men for their sins, and exhorts them to repent. Why would He do that if every thought, word and deed was already predestined and man had no free will?  In fact, why do Calvinists try to convince others of their doctrine (most of them spend more time doing this than preaching the Gospel), if all of our thoughts are already predestinated and we have no free will?

(Next time you meet a Calvinist you might tell them that it was predestined that you would not believe in predestination!)

The “Chosen” and the “Elect”

Calvinists ask us to believe that when the Bible says that someone is “elect” or “chosen,” that that means that they were predestined to that state, apart from their will, and that they cannot choose otherwise.  But when we look at all passages where these words are used, we find that nothing could be further from the truth.

Did Jesus die only for the “Elect”?

Contrary to the false teachings of the Calvinists, God’s salvation is open to all, and “whosoever will may come,”.  Notice carefully the following verses:

See also Mark 8:34; Romans 5:18; Revelation 22:17; compare Matthew 11:28; 12:50; 16:25; Acts 10:35, 43; 17:30; Romans 1:16; 3:22)

The Calvinist response to these verses is that the “all men” “whosoevers”, and “world” only refers to the elect. This response is too ridiculous for further comment.

Verses used by Calvinists

Some passages in the Bible, when taken out of the context of the rest of God’s Word, seem to support a Calvinistic view.  Let us look closely at some of their best verses.

Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Calvinists take this verse to mean that all the wicked that ever lived or ever will live were made by God to be wicked, and they had no choice in the matter.

In response, let us point out that “the wicked” in this verse is in the singular tense (in Hebrew), and so refers to one wicked man, who is then referred to as “the wicked” (again singular) in other OT passages (e.g.: Psalm 37:10) This “wicked man” is actually the Antichrist (also referred to as “that Wicked” in 2 Thessalonians 2:8).  See also that “the day of evil” obviously refers to the Tribulation.  God may predestine a particular man for a particular time (like Pharaoh, see Romans 9 below), but that does not mean that all wicked people are created so and have no choice. Wicked men can always repent, find mercy, and alter God’s intended wrath. (Like Ahab did in 1 Kings 21:17-29).

John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Calvinists use this verse to say that “the will of man” has nothing to do with salvation, and that our salvation or damnation is based merely on the predestined will of God.

In response, we agree that if it was totally up to our will we could not be saved (salvation by works).  But the abundance of verses cited earlier clearly shows that it is our choice for which we will be held accountable.

There is a sense though, in which man’s will is not involved in salvation, and that is in the instigation of the very plan of salvation itself (the “drawing” of God: John 6:44). With our own will we cannot save ourselves unless God provides a means of, and participates in, our salvation.  For example, if you fell into a very big hole that you could not climb out of, and there is no way to save yourself, without help.  God then comes and throws down a ladder so you can climb out, but it is still up to you to do your part to climb out.

 Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Based on this verse, we are to believe (if the Calvinists are correct) that these Gentiles in Antioch were predestined before the foundation of the world to be saved and that they had no choice in it.

In response, we see that the verse says nothing of the sort.  Nowhere does the verse say who ordained them (the Greek could even be translated, “they ordained themselves to eternal life”), nor does it say when they were ordained.  Notice that the Bible says that God “chose” David “because he kept my commandments” (1 Kings 11:34; see also 20:42).  Isaiah 49:7 says, “the Lord shall choose thee,” indicating that not all choosing was done before Creation.  Nothing in this verse says that these Gentiles were ordained more than 5 minutes before they believed.

Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”  

Romans 9:16-21, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.  For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.  Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault?  For who hath resisted his will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?”

There are two things to look at in these passages (which the Calvinists usually take out of context). One is the examples that are used, and the other is the actual context itself.

Pertaining to the examples that Paul uses to make his point, we find the births of Jacob and Esau. Of these two brothers we find that before they were born God decreed that the elder would serve the younger.  The example of Pharaoh is also given: namely that God raised him up, and as Exodus points out repeatedly, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  These are only examples of special individuals in history.

In the first case, God is starting the Jewish nation, so the special circumstances of the birth of Jacob have nothing to do with you or me.  In the second case, when God singled out  Pharaoh to harden his heart, it was because that Pharaoh had already chosen to mistreat the Hebrews.  Hardening his heart was a judgment for choices he had already made.

God also gives us another reason that he appointed one man to perdition: so that many more would receive the truth…why, pray tell, would God do that if those many more were already predestined to heaven or hell?

Again as to the context, see Romans 9:24, 10:1,12; 11:1,7,12,25 and see that it is clear that Paul is talking about God’s plan, hidden through the ages: The Church, to include the Gentiles (as a group) with the Jews (as a group) in His family.  The “choosing” of Israel and of the Gentiles to make up the Church does not mean that every individual Jew or Gentile will be saved (or lost), but that they, as a group, will have access to God’s blessings and salvation.

Ephesians 1:4,5,11,  “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. … In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

The theme of Ephesians is once again God’s dealings with Jews and Gentiles as a group (The Church: see Ephesians 2:11-3:8). It was always God’s will from ages past, hidden in a mystery (3:4) that the Gospel would be offered to the Gentiles.  This does not mean that only specific Gentiles are predestined to heaven.

Philippians 2:12-13,  “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not all in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

This passage clearly points out the working together of man’s part and God’s part in our salvation: God worked it in, so now we must “work it out”.  God has given us the will, but it is still up to us to exercise it, and we can obviously choose not to, otherwise the exhortation in this verse is meaningless.  Even our faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10), but God has given to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3), and again, God “granting to the Gentiles repentance” (Acts 11:18) does not mean that only specific Gentiles will repent.

Revelation 17:8, “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Calvinists use this verse to teach that the saved were written in the book of life “before” (as they usually mis-quote it) the foundation of the world.

In response, it should be noted that the expression “from the foundation of the world” is found elsewhere, and does not refer to something that happened before Creation.  See Luke 11:50-51 where Jesus said, “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”

This verse is not referring to blood of prophets shed before Creation, but that since the beginning of time all the blood of the prophets, shed at different times throughout history, would be required.  So likewise, Revelation 17:8 is not saying that all names were in the book of life before Creation, but that since the foundation of the world all the names that have been added to the book of life (at different times throughout history) would not include the followers of the beast.

A good question for the Calvinists is that if their understanding of this verse is true, then why do so many verses talk about names being blotted out of the book of life! (Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 9:5; 69:28; 109:13; Revelation 3:5; 22:19)

The Truth!

Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God.  From all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”


So why has this ridiculous viewpoint risen to any measurable height whatsoever? Several reasons come to mind

These final chapters have revealed a number of the diversions that the enemy has used in to throw us off the track. They consume countless hour of time in debate, “busy-work” and undeniable error. These then are Satan’s works and intent in quenching, watering-down and causing to slumber the very people called to God’s service. Only through proper understanding of these things, mixed with your individual correct choices, will His attacks fail and your life become victorious and productive…this is our intent and prayer.

Note: To send this Chapter to a friend click "File" and select "e-mail link".

Return to Table of Contents