My husband says that if he could only claim one “label” it would be that of a Biblicist. He believes that God’s Word is pure, complete, and with the direction of the Holy Spirit able to be understood. I have really tried to approach God’s Word in this way as well. With that said, there are a lot of man-made labels. I’m a Calvinist…I’m Arminian…I’m reformed…I am missional….I am transformational…..I follow MacArthur…I follow Spurgeon…I follow _______ (fill in the blank with the latest church growth guru)…..I am of Paul….I of Apollos….I of Cephas, etc. Do you get the point? It is not that I disregard the teaching of men or certain labels. (In fact, the first church continued “stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” ) Labels can be an effective identifier. We proudly identify ourselves as Baptists. But a label is only effective as long as it does not diminish or detract from the doctrines found in Scripture.
An example of this would be the Calvinist’s label. I have met some who will claim this label without fully understanding it. I have even met “Baptist” who proudly wears the sign, never understanding that Luther and Calvin persecuted those that believed in true Baptist doctrine. So why would they claim this label? There is too much of God’s Word that contradicts the teaching; yet many still cling to this man-made doctrine as if it is the gospel itself. For example, the doctrine of limited atonement is one of the “5 TULIPS” and is the belief that the death of our Lord Jesus on Calvary’s cross was strictly limited in any and all of its aspects only to the elect and that it had nothing to do with the non-elect people of the world. This is a doctrinal issue that has been debated for years by many theologians. I will not attempt to argue the point (too much) but I will say that we must be very careful to not hold up man’s theology in higher regards than God’s precious Word. The problem I see with those that take this view is that they filter all of the Scriptures through this one particular doctrine. In other words, what would normally be simple to understand verses are perverted and twisted so that they will fit into Calvin’s doctrine. To do so is not only unnecessary but also leads to error. Ask yourself this. What do you do when you come across a passage in Scripture about God like this one, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:4. I have always said that the Bible is the best commentary on the Bible we have.
It seems simple to me. Where God said that we are the elect, I believe it. Where God said that He wills all men to be saved, I believe it as well. When God says that “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” I believe it. And where God says Christ was sent to be the “propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” I believe it too. To do otherwise would be to hold up some Scripture over the others. So you could say I believe in the doctrine of election and in the doctrine of free will. I believe that Christ died for the entire world, but I also believe that not everyone will be saved. The Scriptures speak of both and no one verse is more important than the other. So the best way of refuting the false view of limited atonement (or any of the other false doctrines of men) is by simply reading, studying, and knowing God’s Word.
There are several passages that refute limited atonement. I believe if these verses were taken without the preconceived notions of man and with the direction of the Holy Spirit that a person could only come to one conclusion. Isaiah 53:5-6, Matthew 11:28, John 1:29, John 3:14-15, Romans 5:6, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 2:9, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:14, 1 John 2:2, Titus 2:11
Obviously certain teachings of Calvinism are not the only teaching I am against. There are many other man-made doctrines that lead us down a slippery slope of false ideas. The point is that man is fallible. Man’s teaching can lead to error. We are weak and make mistakes. But God’s Inspired Word is perfect. He makes no mistakes. It is without error. And, it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness. It is His Word we should cling to. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that man’s teaching is futile. The Bible is clear that we are to teach others. But this teaching should never be taken lightly. Those that teach God’s Word will be held to a high standard. James warns, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” James 3:1. My husband is the pastor of a precious group of believers. He takes his role of teaching very seriously.
“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word,” Act 6:4.
“Feed the flock of God which is among you,” 1 Peter 5:2a.
“A bishop then must be…apt to teach,” 1Timothy 3:2.
“And he gave some…pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-12.
Likewise, I teach women and write expository Bible studies for women. But my husband and I would be the first to tell you that you should not take our word for it; study the Scriptures for yourself to see if what we are teaching is true. May we always be like the believers in Berea that were nobler than the ones in Thessalonica because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” Act 17:11.