Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Did He Purchase Us on Layaway?

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
(Act 20:28)

When I bring up the topic of God’s predestination, and the Lord Jesus Christ dying only for His elect, I routinely run into quite a bit of opposition. The problem is that Arminianism is alive and thriving within our culture today. After all, that seems more “fair,” doesn’t it? An Arminian makes the claim that the Lord Jesus Christ died for every last man, woman, and child on Earth. All we “have to do” is to accept Him, and we are automatically counted among His people. I have taught my children that “fair” is a socialistic concept. To counter that idea of “fair” one need not read further than Matthew 20:1-16.

The problem with the Arminian doctrine is this: If Christ died only to give the possibility of salvation to everyone, but did not actually secure the salvation of any, then His blood did not actually make any sort of “purchase” at all.

If you go to the store and purchase an item, you don’t have to wait for that item to “choose” to jump in your basket. Even if you are purchasing a live animal, your purchase is not contingent upon the animal’s will. The item is selected by the purchaser and it is purchased at the agreed upon price. The only time a purchase is made and possession is not granted is if you are doing a layaway plan. In a layaway plan, only part of the purchase price is paid. Delivery of the item does not occur until the price is paid in full.

So, did Jesus’ blood pay the price in full? Or do we need the sinner to come along and add his part as well?

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
(1Pe 1:18-20)

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
(Joh 19:30)

Jesus paid, in full, the price for His elect. The price was His own blood. His blood paid all the cost for His elect, and none beyond that. We know that not everyone is saved. Even the Arminians admit that. Only heretical universalists teach that all are saved. So then, we see that Jesus died for an actual chosen elect foreordained from the foundation of the world, not for some theoretical possibility of a group of people consisting of some arbitrary number. For no one would “choose Christ” without the Spirit drawing him. Thus, Christ would have died in vain.

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Psa 53:2-3)

So, if you are in His Kingdom, praise God! He has chosen you, for you never would have chosen Him of your own accord.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Regarding "fair", a friend at church was telling me that anytime his children say something isn't "fair" that he will tell them "most of the people in the world only get 1 meal a day, most people in the world only have 1 set of clothing and don't have a roof over their heads. If you want fair, then you only get one meal a day, we'll take away all your clothes except for what you're wearing, and we'll move outside and live in the yard". That will make them realize that they really don't want "fair". I've been doing the same with my kids, and it is amazing how quickly they have stopped complaining about life not being "fair".

Mike Southerland said...

Very true! But my telling them that "fair" is a socialistic concept has been pretty effective. They may not fully understand it, but they know socialism is not a good thing...things like government schools, government health care, etc. :-)

But they know how to play my game. They've tried to complain about one another not being "just." :-) I countered that they really don't want justice either! Grace is much better!

Anonymous said...

The "elect" and "predestination": What about missionaries? Good or pointless?

Mike Southerland said...

Missionaries are "very good!" God has ordained this means to call forth His elect from all nations of the world. John G. Paton was a strong Presbyterian minister in the 1800's to the New Hebrides islands. He led many native savages to Christ. In this way, Paton fulfilled the Great Commission. You may ask, "If these natives were elect, wouldn't they have been saved without Paton's efforts?" This is really a nonsensical question. For God commanded His servant John Paton to go and share the Gospel with them. I sincerely believe that if Paton had disobeyed the Lord, then God would have raised up another to go in his place. Yet, every former savage that is now praising God in glory today was predestined from the foundation of the world to salvation. Every savage that died in his sins is burning in hell just as God had foreordained that he would. Paton had the honor of serving the Lord according to His command. It was not Paton who saved them, but God. It was only Paton's responsibility to obey his master and share this good news with them. God controls the results. How freeing is this theology! No, we don't shirk our responsibility to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Rather, we embrace that calling and "outwardly call" everyone to repentance. However, it is only those who are "inwardly called" by the Holy Spirit who will respond. So, we need not lay in bed and fret that someone is going to "die in their sins" simply because we didn't share the gospel with them. If God has predestined them for His kingdom, then they *will* be saved regardless of our human efforts. If God has predestined that they are reprobates, then no amount of pleading with them will change their hardened hearts. How much better it is when we drop an Arminian theology and trust that God is in complete control over our salvation! If I controlled my own salvation, I know that I would blow it and wind up in hell. I thank God for His doctrine of Perseverence of the Saints. He alone keeps me in the palm of His hand.

Anonymous said...

OK, lots of questions here. I'll start with this: You say, "How much better it is when we drop an Arminian theology and trust that God is in complete control over our salvation!" In your world, are there only hyper-Calvinists and Arminians? The way I see it, it is a spectrum and you are representing the extreme ends. For example, I am a Southern Baptist by choice. I recognize that salvation belongs completely to the Lord, but I had to believe -- or choose. I was drawn out by the conviction of the Lord and had to decide then if I would obey. But, unlike our friends over in the Church of Christ, I'm not working out my own salvation.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and sorry for the confusion. "Jonathan" is "Joe" is "Jonathan".

Mike Southerland said...


Thanks for the dialog. This topic is one that has been debated throughout the centuries. I am most likely not going to state the case better here in this blog than the Reformers did almost 500 years ago. If you read some of my background on my website at, you’ll see that God has brought me through quite a path over the last few years away from the Charismatic movement into a Reformed Baptist doctrine. So, if you are Southern Baptist, then I can see why you would call my positions “extreme,” for even to me the change in worship style and doctrine is quite the polar opposite from the way I used to believe.

Having said that, I will respond to the note you left. I would disagree that the position I have described is “hyper-Calvinism.” In my understanding, Hyper-Calvinism says that there is no need to pray, for God is in control anyway, so what’s the use? Hyper-Calvinism says there is no need to evangelize for if God is in control, then again, what’s the use? Hyper-Calvinism, in my understanding, simply sits by and does nothing taking comfort in the fact that God will do what He wants whenever He wants, and there is nothing man can do to interfere. I believe that Hyper-Calvinists err in this regard. While it is true that God is entirely sovereign, God uses His ordained means to bring about His purposes here on Earth. God has commanded for all men to repent and turn to Him. However, only those whom the Father has drawn are able (or even willing) to heed this command. I submit to you that if you are indeed in the Body of Christ, and have “chosen” Him, then it is God alone that put that “Irresistible Grace” inside of you in order to draw you to Himself. In reality, you did not “choose Him.” He chose you. If He didn’t, then you never would have come to Him, for the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.

God has ordained in His Word that men are to “pray everywhere” (I Tim 2:8). He has also ordained that we are to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) So, we see that God has not only ordained *who* is to be in His Kingdom, He has ordained the means whereby they are to enter His Kingdom.

I want to mention a famous pastor whom I admire greatly. If you are Southern Baptist, then chances are, you admire him as well. His name is Charles Hadden Spurgeon. Rev. Spurgeon taught the same things I am teaching here. Though I can’t say that I’ve read all his writings, I can say that what I’ve read so far entirely lines up with scripture and supports the five points of Calvinism:
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Read Spurgeon’s writings. I don’t think you’ll find him talking of “choosing” Christ or directing his own salvation through his own free will. Consider his sermon, “Free Will – A Slave.” It is very telling.

Anonymous said...

Mike and Southerlands,

It was truely an awesome experience to have shared with you and everyone think...a once in a lifetime experience...see you in 2020?

I'm thinking about trying to book a passage on a modernized old vessel from Holland to Plymouth starting in 2019...whaddya think? All of us dress up like Pilgrims and sail over in time for VF's Plymouth Quad100?

Maybe that would be too much ambience or identification? It would be cool (modernized) is the key...bathrooms and etc...

Anyway, it sure was cool getting to meet you and yours--I will never forget all of the friends I made...

Eventually I will have a blog about my experience too...I need a few days to get re-acclimated to Oregon.

Robert (AKA shadow)

Anonymous said...

I typed a lengthy response a couple of days ago. Did you receive it?

Mike Southerland said...

I'm sorry Joe. I never saw it. Did you send as a comment to this blog entry or as a personal email? Please resend, and I'll post it, along with my response.

Anonymous said...

How about dueling blogs? I'll post something on my blog and you answer it here. It won't be competition. It'll just be a conversation.

Mike Southerland said...

That'd be fine as long as continue in Christian love. Also, I would assume we would use "Sola Scriptura" as the final judge of correctness. :-)

As a courtesy, could you let me know on my personal email when you have posted something. I'm actually swamped right now, and don't have a lot of time to "surf." Yet, iron sharpening iron is something that I prioritize in my life. If you'll email me your direct email address I'll return the favor and let you know when I have an update.

GUNNY said...

Good stuff, Mike.

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard Calvinism described as "Hyper-Calvinism," well ... I wouldn't be driving a Toyota Camry, I bet.

Of course, Spurgeon said that Calvinism is a nickname for the Gospel.

Also, John Calvin, George Whitefield, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, George Mueller, etc ... all Reformed, or Calvinistic, and yet immensely evangelistic and/or mightily involved in world missions.

Great to have you among the ranks of the Reformed Baptists, brother!

One other quick hit, regarding your post proper ... all the biblical discussion of the atonement isn't of the variety of potentiality, but of that which was accomplished. And He accomplished what He intended. The cross was a success, not a massive failure.

Consequently, all the Father gives Him will come to Him (John 6:37). They will come "willingly," but only because of the transforming power of regeneration whereby they now have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Prior to that, they would never come, because they didn't want to come, because they loved the darkness. (John 3:19) Until that heart change in regeneration as God draws (John 6:44), nobody would ever be saved.

Some men hate the doctrine of divine sovereignty; but those who are called by grace love it, for they feel if it had not been for sovereignty, they never would have been saved.
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon