CALVARY CHAPEL - POTENTIAL CULT?
IN ANSWER TO CHUCK SMITH, FOUNDER OF CALVARY CHAPEL ON SAVING FAITH
[CHUCK SMITH, "WHY GRACE CHANGES EVERYTHING," 1994]:
"But What is Real Faith? Our actions must be in harmony with what we believe."
This is not true. One’s actions are often inconsistent with what one believes. That inconsistency does not negate the fact that one at some time truly believed. This is especially true relative to salvation unto eternal life since only a moment of faith alone in Christ alone + nothing else is required and no one is perfectly faithful after that 24/7, (Jn 3:16 & more than 150 passages indicate a moment of faith alone not requiring the faith to continue and 1 Jn 1:8, 10 indicate that no believer can claim to not sin).
Just as one might exercise a moment of faith in physical exercise being good for ones health, but for a variety of reasons one might never exercise at all;
yet this does not negate the fact that one truly believed that exercise was good for ones health at some time;
so, in the same way,
one might at some time exercise a moment of faith alone in Christ alone as Savior unto eternal life to become truly justified (saved) unto eternal life, (Jn 3:16 et al), but for a variety of reasons as supported in Scripture, a true believer may never live a faithful life, (Romans chapter 6);
yet this does not negate the fact that one truly believed in Christ as Savior at some time and secured for himself eternal life as stipulated in more than 150 places in Scripture.
Scripture does not teach that salvation unto eternal life is conditioned upon or will result in continual obedience. If anything, we could argue that John's Gospel purposefully introduces us to those who believed in Jesus as Savior, but were less than fully committed as disciples or were partially obeying Him. Martha believed and was obviously saved (11:27; and we can assume Mary and Lazarus were too), but there is no indication that she followed Christ in the fullest sense of leaving home and family. Less than full confession and commitment are also found in the 'secret disciple,' Joseph of Arimathea (19:38). Some would argue that Nicodemus was also in this category (cf. 19:39). In addition, the Jewish rulers mentioned in 12:42 believed in Christ, but did not confess Him publicly for fear of being ostracized by the other Jewish leaders. Yet nothing in Scripture indicates that they were not truly saved and Jn 1:12-13 stipulates that anyone who believes is]
[CHUCK SMITH, cont.]
"Belief isn't merely what we say; belief is demonstrated by what we do."
Here is the fallacy: One can demonstrate what one believes or not - neither response necessarily proves out what one believes. If there is no evidence that one believes at some moment in time, that does not negate the fact that they at some time believed or continue to believe!! Believing is a mental acceptance of something as true in a moment of time. That cannot be changed later by lack of demonstration that they believed. The opposite may also be true, that one may act as if one believes in something but that may not be conclusive either]
"In other words, true faith is more than a verbalization. True faith leads to appropriate actions… Our actions must be in harmony with what we believe or our belief can be called into question…."
First of all, there are no appropriate actions required of faith to be effective in saving one unto eternal life. Saving faith is simply a trust in the information that Christ paid for ones sins. Over 150 passages stipulate this. No passage in Scripture even hints that a commitment to behave better is required to be saved as part of saving faith nor demonstrate it later. One is required only to accept the truth of the matter that Christ paid for ones sins and that alone, (1 Jn 5:9-13). Check any of the more than 150 salvation unto eternal life verses.
Many passages indicate that a true believer can choose to live an unfaithful lifestyle.
Furthermore, if what Chuck Smith says is true, then no one would be saved because all fall short of his unbiblical mandate to demonstrate by works a faithfulness in behavior to God’s standards in order to be truly saved. This begs the question, 'How far short can one fall of meeting the mandate of faithful behavior to support what one once believed to make it true saving faith??' Since God has a zero tolerance for sin, might I suggest no failure at all. But thank God for the grace of God - Scripture indicates that a true believer can fall short of the glory of God with no limit yet still be a true believer:
[CHUCK SMITH, cont.]:
"None of this means, of course, that our actions are always going to be perfect…. Sometimes my activities and actions are opposed to my faith in Jesus Christ…. But I can't live in that condition. I may stumble and fall, as does everyone, but I don't lie there."
Interesting, but the bible says that believers cannot claim to live without a pattern of continuous unfaithfulness, (1 Jn 1:8, 10). So to what degree according to the unbiblical gospel of Chuck Smith can one not continuously sin??? No Lordship salvationist has offered an acceptable answer to this from Scripture. As a matter of fact there is large disagreement on this issue within the Lordship salvation camp itself.
Since the grace of God covers the forgivenness of all of the believers’ sins past, present and future no matter what: , then the demand that one live a life of continual obedience in order to demonstrate that they have true salvation is false.
"Our faith must necessarily lead to a life of obedience and right actions, but it is not those right actions or our obedience that earn us right standing before God……. If there is no fruit in my life, then the relationship must be questioned and even challenged."
Since one’s assurance comes solely on the basis of what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, (1 Jn 5:9-13), then lack of fruit to whatever degree, (no one produces fruit 24/7), is not ever the issue. Is it? According to Scripture, no one can claim to lead a life of continual obedience to God’s standards. Thus according to Chuck Smith’s unbiblical theology, no one can be saved.
But thank God for the grace of God and what Scripture clearly teaches.
[CHUCK SMITH, cont.]
'''That is why Paul tells us, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Corinthians 13:5).'''
To determine that 2 Cor 13:5 is a proof text as to whether or not one is saved is to rip the passage out of its context .
Paul is not saying, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are born again, or justified." But he is saying, "Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith."
Unfortunately these forceful words are often read as though they challenged the Corinthians to find out whether or not they were saved. This is unthinkable and absurd. After twelve chapters in which the Apostle takes his readers' Christianity for granted, can he only now be telling them to make sure they are born again? The question answers itself.
The phrase "in the faith" relates in some way to our Christian walk or warfare. The meaning "to be a Christian" is not relevant in any New Testament passage at all!
Furthermore this false interpretation of Chuck Smith contradicts clear passages that stipulate that recalling that one believed in the Son of God to save one is sufficient to know for sure that one has eternal life from the moment expressing saving faith without having to examine ones works from day to day. No one can assure themselves of continual obedience all their lives so assurance that their final destiny is heaven is non-existent.
A final flaw in this point to check one's works to see if one is saved:
Can an unbeliever objectively view his lifestyle without a godly viewpoint to discern whether or not he is faithful? The godly viewpoint can only be obtained when one has become a born again believer who has a biblical perspective of divine good works and can now be led by the Holy Spirit. So Chuck Smith's test to see if one is saved by ones actions is flawed. The carnal mind of the unbeliever is not equipped to make such a judgment, neither is the mind of a carnal minded believer.
[CHUCK SMITH, cont.]
"Jesus told us that there is such a thing as a wolf in sheep's clothing. You can look like a Christian, act like a Christian, and talk like a Christian - but grandma, what big teeth you have! You may have all the outward appearances of a sheep but in reality be a wolf. So how are we going to know who's who? Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20, emphasis added)."
This passage is about false teachers within which v. 7:20 is located. Again we have a verse wrenched out of its context. One cannot stretch this passage to say that one can detect whether one is a believer or an unbeliever by one's lifestyle because Scripture does indicate that believers do have the potential at times of carrying on a lifestyle that does not reflect the fact that they are saved, (Eph 5:1-20; Gal 5:16-25; Ro 6:1-23, 8:1-4).
[CHUCK SMITH, cont.]
"We are called to examine our lives in order to determine what kind of fruit we're bearing. If the fruit is bad, then there is something wrong with our relationship, which means there is something wrong with our faith. A vital relationship of faith in Jesus Christ will bring forth fruit - without fail."
"We are called to examine our lives in order to determine what kind of fruit we're bearing. If the fruit is bad, then there is something wrong with our relationship" = Amen.
Something indeed is wrong with the relationship. Notice that Chuck Smith implies that there is a relationship.
In fact, it is a born again unto eternal life into the family of God relationship, (Jn 1:12-13), which has something wrong with it.
The wayward child of God is out of temporal fellowship in his relationship with God his Father. The child is not unsaved but is under the Father's discipline. He needs to confess his sins, (1 Jn 1:9) to restore his fellowship with the Father, and resubmit himself to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit. There is no unbeliever in view here at all!!
"If the fruit is bad, then there is something wrong with our relationship, which means there is something wrong with our faith. A vital relationship of faith in Jesus Christ will bring forth fruit - without fail." = Here Chuck Smith goes too far. Know any believer who maintains a right relationship with God 24/7 or can even claim not to be out of fellowship with God with sin in ones life daily? Scripture says anyone who claims this is a liar and makes God out to be a liar.
NEARLY APPREHENDED AT CALVARY CHAPEL, ST. PETERSBURG
I'd been attending Calvary Chapel for four weeks. People said that Pastor Danny Hodges was a good verse by verse preacher.
No Sunday school and 40 minutes of arms-in-the-air, 'Praise and Worship' is not my cup of biblical tea, however.
The first time I attended, I filled out a visitor form and provided information to them as to what I believed in.
Pastor Danny's sermon touched upon John 3:5 where he erred on the phrase 'born of water' being physical birth. (Certainly babies go to heaven if they die before physical birth, hence 'born of water and the spiritual' is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual realm, not physical birth).
Providentially, I had a print out of my take on it, so I sent it to him via the offering box. I wondered if doing this would offend him, but I couldn't pass up the providential opportunity. I made several attempts in addition to this to present myself to the church to see if I might be accepted. There was no response so far.
The next week, I bumped into a young man at Calvary who I observed several times preaching works salvation downtown with a youth group from Calvary. In our conversations about the gospel he often postered himself in a physically threatening manner. He insisted on naming every sin and perseverance (works) in order to be saved despite all the passages I showed him to the contrary. His entire group was in harmony with his position.
I contacted Calvary once more re: their concept of the gospel, especially considering this youth group leader's testimony. Associate Pastor Timothy then engaged me in a conversation which was none too friendly. He did not listen to me very well, consequently I spent much of the conversation correcting him on what I said and didn't say. I gave him my website address and pleaded with him to take a careful look to see if my 'theology' was OK with him. This he did not do.
My third Sunday was missionary day at Calvary Chapel with booths lined up in the hallway for everyone to drop by and visit with them. I visited three booths. I began each conversation with an introductory statement about how most missionaries I have met did not have a handle on the gospel and how that disappointed me so much. And then I posed the question to them from Scripture: "What must I do to be saved?", (Acts 16:30), expecting them to at least be familiar with the answer from such a well known passage in Scripture. No one got it right, nor was anyone familiar with this popular passage!!! Two gentlemen heard me out without rancor when I explained the biblical answer. They finally agreed with the Bible's answer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." [Acts 16:31a].
The couple in the first booth insisted on works and then became negative and then non-responsive as I defended the gospel from Scripture in the same way as before.
Finally, a woman at the last booth caught my attention as I was passing by. When I posed my question to her from Acts 16:30, she insisted that one had to evidence a commitment in ones life showing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to go to heaven. She said that believing in Jesus was not enough, (contrary to Scripture), and that 'You had to accept Him into your life' by way of ongoing faithfulness. She focused on the difference between faith and acceptance as if there were one. When I mentioned that they were synonymous in the context of salvation according to the dictionary, she became visibly upset, excused herself and walked away. Later on she went to Associate Pastor Timothy and expressed deep anger about how badly I behaved. Pastor Timothy became her champion. Our next conversation reflected his adoption of her anger toward me without getting my side of the story. He condemned me for my unloving and divisive behavior and for handing out literature to others.
I had given a print-out testimony with my name, phone number and website address to Pastor Danny, each missionary I spoke with and a few others in the congregation. I also provided copies of a study on John chapter 3 to Pastor Danny and the two missionaries who agreed with me. So nothing was done behind anyone's back. Nevertheless this led to Pastor Danny's special condemnatory sermon of me. He described my behavior as unacceptable, unloving, conceited, rebellious and heretical. He associated me with a number of well known heretics who denied the Trinity and other basic doctrines of the faith.
It is interesting to note that Associate Pastor Tim had previously affirmed me to be biblically accurate in our second conversation the Friday before Pastor Danny's condemnatory sermon. I had also agreed not to hand out anything until he had a chance to review it. And I promised to provide Pastor Timothy with copies of the two items I handed out, which I did. But this did not forestall Pastor Danny's personal castigation of my behavior in his Sermon the following Sunday.
Pastor Danny's sermon clearly implied that my point of view twisted Scripture bordering on heresy. Furthermore I was accused of acting in an unloving, conceited manner with an agenda to cause division in the church body in order to win people over to my 'heresy'. He implied that I was prone to promote controversies about inconsequential matters. I suspect he hadn't read my personal testimony or the study of John chapter 3 which I sent to him weeks ago which centered around the gospel - something that is not inconsequential! Several times Pastor said that if anyone in the congregation found me personally handing out this salacious literature to report me so they can 'get me'. Ironically, he quoted what I said in my printed personal testimony verbatim as the way to salvation unto eternal life: salvation "by grace through faith". Hence he condemns himself.
I was reminded of our Lord's comments in the Temple at Nazarath after which they tried to push Him over a cliff.
I gave the leaders at Calvary every opportunity to check out who I was but their response was to ignore what I have said and attack me with a paranoid admonishment of imaginary heresies and bad behavior and threats of personal harm.
Ironically, Assoc. Pastor Timothy had declared my 'theology' acceptable at the end of our second conversation, the Friday before Pastor Danny's castigation of me.
On the other hand, Pastor Danny revealed his true self when he declared that it didn't matter what anyone in the congregation believed because we were all at different levels of maturity!!! He made a few exceptions to this like those who denied the Trinity, were greedy, or divisive and unloving like me. He cited Pentecostals and Charismatics and those who believed you could lose your salvation as individuals one should not judge, (as holding an unbiblical point of view). Furthermore Pastor Danny espoused Lordship Salvation (works are required for salvation). He condemned me for my unloving and divisive attitude which he put on a par with denying the Trinity and other heresies. Each of those he condemned, including myself, he likened to rebellious individuals with a personal, divisive and heretical agenda which is destructive to the church. Yet he quoted what I have been saying all along to him and others in his congregation: that the gospel is by grace through faith alone. I have found a surprising number at Calvary who do not hold to this means of salvation, hence they may not be saved at all and need to be witnessed to just like I did.
I can only surmise that he has his own definition of grace and faith outside of Scripture.
My second conversation with Pastor Timothy on Friday was largely spent correcting him on what I said and didn't say. The rest of it was spent listening to his condemnation of my behavior as unloving and divisive. It was interesting to note that as soon as I expressed concern to Pastor Timothy for the eternal destiny of the angry woman that he championed, he did a 180 degree in his attitude toward me and began to listen to what I had to say. After testing me with a number of difficult problem passages, he ended the conversation commending me for my knowledge of the doctrines of the bible. Nevertheless, he still admonished me for bad behavior and made me promise to bring him what I handed out in the congregation so he could review it.
FOLLOWUP WITH PASTOR TIMOTHY FROM CALVARY CHAPEL
The Thursday following my official castigation before thousands in Pastor Danny's sermon, I called Pastor Timothy to see if he had anything to say about the 'objectionable' materials I sent to him which I had handed out to people at Calvary. He said he had none!!!!
He immediately burst the bubble of 'loving' acceptance with a stern rebuke of me for sending a friendly email to one of Calvary's missionaries which referenced my BIBLESTUDYMANUALS ministry website. He asked me why I used a fake name implying that I was continuing to do something evil behind his back. He said that this kind of behavior was totally unacceptable. It was tantamount to underhanded solicitation.
I advised him that I used my middle name for my internet email at excite.com because it was more available than my first name. This is common practice not an example of the guile of an evil man!! I had already spoken to the individual and had signed the email with my name at the bottom. So there was nothing underhanded going on but a simple message of hello and information as to what my ministry for Christ was all about! I reasoned with him that since he found nothing objectionable with my 'theology' so far, then why the stinging rebuke!!
Nevertheless, he insisted that if I was going to attend Calvary Chapel, that this kind of behavior was unacceptable. I wondered what other unspoken rules I might violate before the wrath of Calvary finally struck me down.
Pastor Timothy said that he highlighted a copy of Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith's opinion on eternal security which he would leave in the church office for me. He implied that it was required that I read and accept it if I wanted to become part of the Calvary congregation. Interesting to note that Pastor Danny's sermon indicated that one's view of eternal security was not key to attending services at Calvary.
Furthermore, both items I sent to Pastor Timothy, which he said he had no problem with, clearly stipulated my position on eternal security in the bible. I've been up front the whole time.
Now he tells me I must read and accept Chuck Smith's point of view, as if what I have presented is not satisfactory????
I can only surmise that there are critical differences between Chuck Smith and myself which prevent me from attending unless I repent of them.
Why Pastor Timothy has not been up front with me I can only guess. Par for the course at Calvary. Ironic that I am the one who is being accused of being underhanded as well as expressing unacceptable, unloving behavior.
MORE FROM PASTOR TIMOTHY
Friday I received nineteen pages of doctrinal information from Associate Pastor Timothy Wolter with personal notes attached. None of it was authored by him, so he evidently invested little time in investigating what I have said in detail, nor in answering me in detail. But it is consistent with our phone conversations where his listening was not attentive. Not a good sign.
"I read your posting on your website suggesting that Calvary Chapel is or may be a cult. I don't know what your purpose is, but such conjecture, implication and misinterpretation doesn't seem to help in advancing the gospel. Advancing the gospel. That is a goal here, and we are not a cult...."
If what was posted is true and proved out adequately, then it certainly would not be conjecture. The implications are proved out from Scripture, there is so far proved no misinterpretation, and it has indeed advanced the gospel which was clearly explained over and over again. Just reread it and see. You have not addressed a single point to prove otherwise. Evidently you have not thoroughly read it, if at all. Instead you have provided nineteen pages of material authored by others which states what I have already refuted from Scripture, including the refutation of a false gospel which includes ongoing obedience/works.
Calvary Chapel's treatment of me has been paranoid, condemnatory and controlling - resembling cult type behavior. There has been no apology for this negative, unloving, graceless behavior toward me. Furthermore, Calvary Chapel's concept of saving faith and condemnation of my defending the gospel and the doctrines of the faith as unscriptural, unloving and divisive behavior is unbiblical .
"Bob, This is from the ministry that produces the free devotional, 'Our Daily Bread'. I believe it provides a good synopsis of salvation.
"LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?
Salvation is deliverance from the penalty, pollution, and power of sin......"
[One has to be more accurate when one uses such a broad term as salvation in the Bible. Ones eternal destiny is one thing, being delivered from the pollution and power of sin during ones mortal life is another, being delivered from dangers or unto blessings is another, having the value of ones mortal life saved unto rewards in heaven another, being saved from an early physical death yet another. More often than not the words saved and salvation in Scripture DO NOT refer to an eternal destination in heaven with God. The issue is context, context, context ]
["LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?"]:
"Repentance is that change of attitude about ones self, ones sin, and God, which involves the whole personality - mind, emotions, and will. In varying degrees, it always accompanies true faith. Sorrow for sin often accompanies it and helps give evidence that genuine repentance has occurred...."
Repentance means a change of mind about what is presented in the context of the passage. In salvation passages it represents a change of mind from not believing in Christ as Savior to believing in Him, nothing more - deciding not to sin anymore is never in view relative to the reception of eternal life.
Furthermore, there is no such thing as varying degrees or any degree of repentant promise or behavior as part of saving faith. Hence there is no such thing as true saving faith in Christ vs false saving faith in Christ or degrees of faith or head faith vs heart faith. Faith is faith = a mental acceptance of the fact that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins so that you should not perish but have eternal life. Either you believe in Jesus Christ paying the penalty for your sins unto eternal life or you do not - on or off - nothing else required.
Finally, degrees of faithful behavior, (works), are different from believing in something as true, (faith). The latter leads to eternal life = faith alone in Christ alone, the former, (works), keep you under eternal condemnation until you are saved by a moment of faith alone in Christ alone + nothing else! ]
["LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?"]:
"7. How do we receive salvation?
By faith alone. Neither zealous commitment to good works.... nor careful observance of religious ritual play a part in obtaining salvation. Salvation is not found in our efforts for God but in trusting what Jesus has done for us."
Notice that you indicate here that salvation is freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ - nothing else is stipulated here, hence nothing else by your own words is required!!! Amen to that.
As a matter of fact by the words in LOOKING FOR ANSWERS which you have upheld: "Neither zealous commitment to good works nor careful observance of religious ritual.... play a part in obtaining salvation..."
However you have contradicted what Calvary Chapel's Homepage on the gospel, (www.calvary chapel.org), stipulates:
[CALVARY CHAPEL'S HOMEPAGE]:
"You can be saved if you are willing to repent of your sin... genuinely desire to turn your back on that sin."
Being willing to "repent of ones sin", i.e., "genuinely desire to turn your back on that sin" constitutes a commitment to be faithful to human doing. Any commitment to human doing, i.e., to works cancels out God's offer of salvation by grace through faith alone, (Ro 11:6).
Furthermore, can the promise to repent of an unbeliever, an individual who is addicted to sin, be any more trusted than the promise of one who is addicted to drugs?
Finally, in "LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?" a few sentences down in paragraph #7 it is declared that more than believing in Jesus Christ is required]:
[LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?]:
"7. How do we receive salvation?
...All God requires is that we call out to Him in faith and ask Him to save us (Rom 10:13)."
Now here you have added to what is required after stipulating earlier in the same paragraph #7: "[Salvation is] by faith alone."
The word "alone" means nothing else! Nevertheless you have added two more requirements after that:
(1) "You must call out to God in faith and
(2) "Ask Him to save you.
This contradicts what you stipulated earlier in paragraph #7: Namely a moment of faith alone. There is a difference, the two additional points are proactive human doing, i.e., human works. Faith alone is passive, not proactive toward producing eternal life and therefore not a human work, (Eph 2:8-10) .
There is nothing in Romans 10:13 about calling out or asking God to do anything. Romans 10:13 says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." = call on the name of the Lord = believe in the name, i.e., the capacity of the Lord to save you, not call out or ask Him to forgive you.
When you believe you are saved like you said at first "[Salvation is] by faith alone" without having to call out or ask anyone anything.
["LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?"?]:
"8. What is saving faith?
It is personal trust in the Lord Jesus. It is believing that God, on the basis of Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection, forgives and accepts all who trust in Him and rely on Him alone for salvation... It is therefore not what we do but what we believe that counts.
Amen. This is what I have been saying all along and which your congregation condemns me for, especially Pastors Danny and Timothy.
["LOOKING FOR ANSWERS?"]:
"8. What is saving faith?
"If what we believe is right, doing right will follow. Good works are the fruit and the evidence... not the ground or the cause."
Scripture teaches that there is NO GUARANTEE that true believers will be faithful, yet they indeed are TRUE BELIEVERS DESTINED TO HEAVEN!!
[Pastor Timothy personal note and excerpt from "Calvary Chapel Distinctives"]:
I made no demand that you read this, from "CALVARY CHAPEL DISTINCTIVES". This seems to be the topic that you took issue with and I thought you might want to read this perspective from the founder of the Calvary Chapel Movement."
Your comment of 'made no demand' belies the way everyone at Calvary Chapel has continually condemned my behavior as inconsistent with your theology.
[CALVARY CHAPEL DISTINCTIVES]:
"We believe in the security of the believer but we also believe in the 'perseverance of the saints.' We don't believe that because you are a saint you will necessarily persevere, but that you need to persevere because you're a saint."
Since eternal security of the believer is mutually exclusive of requiring that the believer "needs to persevere" this statement of believing that both are true is double talk/nonsense. How can one be secure in ones eternal destiny if one cannot guarantee that one can persevere moment to moment? Can one guarantee one will be faithful in the future all the time?? If you cannot guarantee that you will be faithful in the future, (know any believer who can?), then how can one be assured one is truly saved and will make it to heaven?
Apparently Calvary Chapel has not thoroughly investigated the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Scripture teaches that a believer's perseverance relative to his daily walk is not a requirement or a reliable indicator of whether or not one is saved unto eternal life. On the other hand perseverance of the saints relative to ones eternal destiny is guaranteed by God Himself. Finally, perseverance for Tribulation saints is required in order for them to be saved from early physical death. You see the issue again is context, context, context.
[CALVARY CHAPEL DISTINCTIVES]:
''' "Jesus said, 'If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed;" (John 8:31)'''
This is the reason why Calvary Chapel's theology is so faulty: nobody seems to bother reading the words in the verses they wrench out of context - especially from the beginning of the passage. Where does this verse say "then are ye truly saved"? It says "then ye are My disciples". There is a big difference between being saved, i.e., a believer and being a disciple. The former takes a moment of belief in Christ as Savior as more than 150 passages stipulate; the latter takes an ongoing lifestyle of following Christ. Most believers don't make very good disciples if at all, but this does not disqualify them from eternal life.
[CALVARY CHAPEL DISTINCTIVES]:
[The following passage is used to support Calvary Chapel's declaration that "you need to persevere because you're a saint."
"If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gathereth them, and casteth them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abode in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Again with the wrenching out of context! It would have been better Calvary Chapel had been a plumbing contractor. Then using a wrench would have been in context.
Salvation is not in view in this passage but loss of fellowship with God is!
The description of the cutting off and burning of the non-fruit producing branches does not correlate to a believer who does not produce fruit being cut off from eternal life.
This becomes clear when verse 10 is considered:
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love."
This verse confirms that salvation is not the subject - and especially not losing it - when our Lord speaks of abiding. For Jesus is telling the disciples to abide, i.e., remain in His love by keeping faithful to what He has commanded them to do just as He has been faithful to the Father and has abided in God the Father's love. Our Lord cannot be describing the maintaining of His own salvation here for He is God. He is however speaking of maintaining His continued fellowship with God the Father.
What John 15:2 does teach is that the value of an unfruitful believer's life is as worthless as those branches which are cut-off and which wither and are burned, (v. 6). Furthermore, other passages indicate that the unfruitful believer is cut off from temporal fellowship with God until he becomes fruitful again by abiding in Christ.
The rest of the CALVARY CHAPEL DISTINCTIVES falls further apart due to the lack of a solid foundational verse by verse, contextual approach to the interpretation of God's Word.
Pastor Timothy provides an excerpt from Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Courson: "SINCERELY SAVED, A Topical Study of Matthew 7:21-23"
The first three pages do not address the passage that contains Matthew 7:21-23 at all. Page four (148) then goes into Acts chapter 8 to provide what is falsely viewed as a parallel example of Simon who believed and was baptized but is falsely determined as not truly saved because his behavior was evil. This is bad exegesis. What Acts chapter 8 says may not be forced into Matthew chapter 7. Each passage says what it says. Each passage carefully exegeted from beginning to end verse by verse via normative rules of language, context and logic, might corroborate what the other says on this point or that, but neither can be used to establish what the other says. If this were so, then the bible could be made to say anything.
"Although Simon professed to believe and was baptized, in reality Peter said, 'You are in the gall of bitterness, in the bond of iniquity' In other words, 'Your conversion is not real."
The bible does not say he professed to belief, it says "Then Simon himself believed also" along with all those in verse 12 who the Scripture implies were saved unto eternal life:
"But when they [the crowds in Samaria] believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
(v. 13a) Simon himself believed and was baptized."
[Notice that many people in Samara believed in the gospel and it is implied that they were saved and baptized and v. 13a says Simon also believed and was baptized: a clear indication that he was saved.
The bible everywhere indicates "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
There is no qualification anywhere in Scripture that there is a true saving faith and a false saving faith, a head faith vs. a heart faith, not enough faith to save vs. enough faith to save, etc.
This is not a good sign: to put words into Scripture. Pastor Courson's editorializing and overriding of the Holy Spirit's inspiration of Scripture continues when he concludes that Simon's conversion was not real. This is not so stipulated here or anywhere in Scripture. Simon was declared by Peter as "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." This does not translate to a false conversion, it translates into a man named "Simon [who] himself believed also" along with many who believed and were truly saved in the same way, (v. 12) and then Simon was baptized. He as a believer then fell into the "gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity". It doesn't stipulate he had a false conversion. We have an unfaithful believer on our hands. The very next verse indicates his immediate repentance:
As a matter of fact the very next verse reflects the repentant attitude of a true believer convicted of evil behavior not one who had a false conversion. It's a pity the Pastor did not continue reading:
(v. 24) Then Simon answered 'Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.' "
So Simon indeed did repent and asked Peter to pray for him so that he would not be harshly disciplined by God for his admitted evil behavior. Recall that such an admission to God of evil behavior resolves the problem of discipline for a believer bringing him forgiveness and bringing him back into fellowship with God Almighty as a believer.
But this isn't where the problem ends. The passage in Mt 7:21-23 was not even investigated. Its context has little to do with Acts chapter 8. Acts 8 is about a true believer who repents of evil doing - which Pastor Courson totally missed, especially by ignoring verse 24. Mt 7:21-23 has in view those who performed works for the Lord but never believed unto salvation. In spite of the two divergent contexts, Pastor Courson endeavors to marry them together to support yet a third point: determining one has a false conversion based on examining ones lifestyle which comes up short in faithfulness. This isn't even biblically based. Apparently Pastor Courson never took the time to carefully examine either passage verse by verse and attempts to force an unbiblical point of view on both.
Let's take a detailed look at Mt 7:21-23 to confirm the above:
Pastor Timothy provides an excerpt from Calvary Chapel's home page (www.calvary chapel.org):
[CALVARY CHAPEL'S HOMEPAGE]:
"Jesus died for you. You can be saved by asking Him for forgiveness for you sins. If you are willing to repent of your sin, He is waiting to forgive you... The word "repent" literally means "to turn away from". You need to look at your life, admit that you are a sinner, genuinely desire to turn your back on that sin, and ask Him to forgive you. If you do this, He promises to forgive you."
"You can be saved by asking Him for forgiveness for you sins." =
This is not in Scripture. It constitutes human doing, insults God's offer to the whole world of forgiveness of sins through faith in the sacrifice of His Son at Calvary. By a human doing action of asking God, it negates being saved. You don't ask God anything to be saved. He has made it plain and clear that forgiveness of sins is available solely by believing in His Son. If you have to ask it is tantamount to doubting whether or not God's One and only Son has made provision on the cross for you sins:
"All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."
(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God --
(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast.."
[CALVARY CHAPEL HOME PAGE]:
"You can be saved by asking Him for forgiveness for you sins. If you are willing to repent of your sin, He is waiting to forgive you....
You need to look at your life, admit that you are a sinner, genuinely desire to turn your back on that sin, and ask Him to forgive you.""
Now we have two things one must do to be saved, yet the first thing already declares you will be forgiven unto salvation when you ask God for forgiveness. So why the second step when you have already received salvation with the first step? Besides this, being willing to repent of your sins is impossible for an unbeliever to do:
(v. 7) "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.
(v. 8) Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
No one can please God with a willingness to repent of his sins. All one can do is to trust alone in Christ alone to forgive him of his sins, (Acts 10:43 quoted above).
Furthermore, to repent of ones sins is an act of human doing which is prohibited per Eph 2:8-9 quoted above. This act cancels out the grace basis of God in saving you:
"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."
[CALVARY CHAPEL HOME PAGE]:
'''The word "repent" literally means "to turn away from". =
Incorrect. Repent means to change the mind. In the context of salvation passages it means to change the mind from not believing in Christ as Savior to believing in Him.
Repent in a salvation unto eternal life passage never means to turn away from your sins in the sense of trying not to sin anymore. That's works.
So we are back to a moment of faith alone in Christ alone + nothing else unto eternal life forever no matter what!! Thank God for the grace of God and His free gift of eternal life with no strings attached!
I can be assured of my eternal destiny in heaven no matter what because my eyes need only be on Jesus and what He did for me, and on no one else.