The Great and Powerful “If”

I despise Calvinism. Whether it’s the full-bore version of the Presbyterians, or the “lite” version of people who only really believe in “Once Saved Always Saved,” I hate it all. The reason for my contempt is really very simple: Calvinism eliminates man’s responsibility to God. Calvin arrived at a false conclusion and decided God does everything for man, and that He saves men without their input, approval, or participation. This is just plain false.

Here’s the truth. God saves sinners by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Isaiah foretold this when he spoke of the Messiah who would be like a sheep led to the slaughter, who would silently face His death for sinners without challenge (Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29, 36). Jesus purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). He is our Passover, sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). It was His blood that Jesus, the High Priest took into heaven (Hebrews 9:12).

However, all that being true, it is absolutely false to say that man has nothing he must do to be saved. Peter told his audience to “save yourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:40). Paul the apostle said, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). So, there can be no doubt that we “save ourselves” through our submission and obedience to God.

There is a very simple little word in the English language that appears often in the New Testament: “IF.” It is a conjunction, a word that joins two clauses together to form a compound sentence. “If” also establishes a condition regarding what’s being discussed. In the case of salvation, “If” might be one of the most powerful words involved with this discussion of man’s duty in his own salvation. Why? Because salvation is conditional! Yes, Jesus died for man’s sins, and yes, God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

  • 1 John 1:7 — “IF” we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with God and be cleansed by Jesus’ blood. What “IF” we don’t walk in the light? Will Jesus “lift us up” and save us anyway?
  • 1 John 1:9 — “IF” we confess our sins He will forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. “IF” we refuse or fail to confess our sins, will Jesus cleanse us anyway, and will we be given fellowship with God?
  • Galatians 6:9 — In due season we will reap “IF” we don’t lose heart. What “IF” we lose heart?
  • 2 Timothy 2:11-12 — I must die with Him “IF” I hope to live with Him. “IF” I deny Him, He will deny me.
  • 2 Peter 1:10 — My calling and election will be sure and I will never stumble “IF” I add to my faith.

The great and powerful two letter word “IF” clarifies the thinking of man’s mind on Calvinism in any of its forms. Any doctrine that makes salvation purely a matter of God’s action and which renders man’s obedience and faith needless, is a false and damnable heresy.  Men and women by the millions will be lost for all eternity “IF” they follow Calvin’s teachings in their lives.

David Weaks