Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There are a number of transliterated words in the King James Bible, most of which are in the New Testament. Examples are at the raising of the young girl where Jesus says Talitha cumi, which in Aramaic means damsel (or little girl), arise (Mark 5:41). Another is Raca found in Matthew 5:22, and is Aramaic for a senseless, empty headed person. Then, Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani (Matthew 27:46), which was our Lord’s utterance from the cross, and caused the crowd to think He was calling Elijah. It is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:1, and means in English, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew says “Eli” which is Hebrew, and Mark 15:34 uses “Eloi” which is Aramaic. It is a transliteration, but is translated for us “on the spot.”

The first church I joined, after really being converted, was Maranatha Baptist in Atlanta. When I was first invited there I was obliged to ask “What in the world does Maranatha mean?” It means “the Lord cometh.” Once I knew the answer, I had a desire to know more regarding the Second Coming of Christ. The word is found one time in scripture in this form. Let us look at the context in which we find this untranslated word: “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (First Corinthians 16: 19-22)

The apostle Paul was summing up his first letter to the church at Corinth. It was actually penned for Paul by Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Timotheus. It was written from Philippi, by hand. You know they did not have computers in 59 A.D., not even typewriters! Several of Paul’s epistles were penned by assistants because his vision was evidently suffering. (see Galatians 6:11) So our text is dealing with closing salutations after much instruction, rebuke and prayers in the previous fifteen chapters from the apostle. The entire two epistles to Corinth are very profitable for doctrine and instruction in righteousness. Even here at the close of the first, we glean much practical truth. Remember this is the word of God, alive and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword. (See Hebrews 4:12)


The churches of Asia salute you. These churches sent greetings of Christian love and fellowship to the Corinthian church. In the early church there was a strong bond of fellowship, and Christian love. Not like today’s churches where often those in the same denomination are in competition with each other. It is really sad, for true Christians are part of the same worldwide family. Each local church is to be a gathering of called out ones, but are connected and related to the body as a whole. One reason the true church has lost influence today is this total disconnect. A number of years ago, Vance Havner published a book Why Not Just Be Christians?(1) It hardly seems a possible goal in our day. Another very interesting book by an anonymous author was titled The People of the Way(2), a wonderful concept dealing with all Christians gathering to only Christ, dropping all labels, and doing only as the Bible teaches. In our day of sin and apostasy, it won’t happen, unless God sends revival according to His sovereign purpose.

Well, this problem was one of the things Paul had to combat in this epistle. In the church there were several factions. Paul straightened them out by saying: For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (First Corinthians 3:4-6)

Corinth was the most immature of the early churches, there was much sin in that assembly, yet Paul found much to commend even in Corinth, but he did have to minister much correction there.

Aqulla and Priscilla also gave a greeting in the Lord to Corinth. They were the married couple with whom Paul first worked with in Corinth. That is where they settled when driven from Rome. Later they went with Paul to Ephesus. Like Paul, they were tentmakers by trade. They sent word from the church that gathered in their home in Ephesus. This was where most early churches met, in homes. They didn’t have elaborate buildings. It was said of the early church how they loved one another, not a certain denomination. There was only one! Christians! It is said how much they loved Christ, not just doctrine, and words about him. All true doctrine emanates from Him.


Paul and those with him loved Christ. Aqulla and Priscilla loved Christ. Verse 20 said: “All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with an holy kiss”. When the love of Christ is in you, you love the brethren. You love the church (Greek=ecclesia), not a building of bricks and mortar, but the people that make up the body, especially your local church. Remember what John said regarding this: “ In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither is he that loveth not his brother.” (First John 3:10) He also says: “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (First John 10:14) I trust I do not need to remind you that although this is written in masculine gender, it includes godly, Christian, sisterly love as well.

You would think today from some of the church fusses and splits, and anger, and bitterness today, that no one in the churches today has ever read these verses. I would that every Christian everywhere could read the article I recently published by J. C. Philpot. Maybe read it several times! It hit the mark! It is on this blog site in case you missed it. (Just keep scrolling back through the months until you see it. It was late 2006 I think). Please read it!

Greet with a holy kiss? Today so many will greet with a sour look, angry words, backbiting and deceit, and in some cases, even fists! Now this church at Corinth had people from various parts of the Roman empire. Diverse people, Jews and Gentiles, who were brought together by the Holy Ghost. They were recently converted Christians from all the pagan backgrounds. There were divisions. There was sin of the worst kind. There were the factions, as mentioned. There was drunkenness, adultery, failure to deal with a disgusting manifestation of that sin in the assembly, false doctrines, misuse of spiritual gifts. Paul had a lot to set right, and he did for them, and us.

Paul said: “And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye able. For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?” (First Corinthians 3: 1-3) “Carnal” is “having the nature of flesh, i.e., under control of animal appetites.”(3) These “babes in Christ” were having to be taught by the apostle to lean on God for everything. They were babes. They were on the “baby food.” These were not people who had been saved for many, many years. So, what’s your excuse, professing Christian?


“The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”
(First Corinthians 16:21,22)

The gear is changed here. Instead of assistants doing the actual writing, now Paul takes up the pen with his own hand. He who had already seen a great work of God done in Corinth, a work which Arthur Pink called“ one of the grandest triumphs of the gospel.”(4)

Yes, Corinth was much as many in America have become today: self indulgent, adulterous, blasphemers, haters of God, sensual, having not the Spirit etc.. In a short phrase; America is a sinful nation, laden with iniquity. Do you dare deny it? You know that is where we are as a nation for the most part. If it was not for the godly remnant, we would already be through!

Well, Corinth was like this, and Jehovah God turned it around, using Paul, and at least it became a powerful church there that loved the Lord Jesus Christ. It almost shocks the senses, as I am sure it did the Corinthians, to see at the end of the epistle something much more than the standard salutations. Paul himself was writing: “IF ANY MAN LOVE NOT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST LET HIM BE ANATHEMA!” He was speaking to them, but he was speaking to us throughout the ages as well. The word love here is not even the strongest Greek word for love. It is phileo, a word that means great affection. You see, an awakened sinner must embrace Christ with the affections of the heart. It is not enough to be awakened, you must hear and believe the gospel. A regenerated person will embrace Christ with the heart.

Paul says if a person does not have this spiritual transformation, let him be anathema, a transliterated word from Greek that means accursed. Paul uses the word several times (First Corinthians 12:3, Romans 9:3, Acts 23:14). But in Galatians he says: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (anathema). As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (anathema).” (Galatians 1:8,9)

The papacy over the centuries has tried to put anathemas on people when they opposed Rome’s abuses, and distortions of the gospels. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers got their anathemas, but they had no power over them. Even when a martyr such as John Hus, who was burned at the stake in Prague in 1415, and pronounced accursed, it only took his earthly body. (see link) No pope can give heaven’s anathema! But an apostle surely can!

So many places in scripture we are told that embracing, receiving, trusting Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation. Examples: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”(Psalm 2:12)

The alternative is to be accursed, i.e., eternal damnation. This anathema which is coupled with maranatha, which as I already said, means “the Lord comes,” or “has come.” Most scholars take the former meaning. It is derived from two Aramaic words, which was the language spoken by the Jews of Christ’s time, and the language He used. Coupling these two transliterated words together amplifies the meaning intensely. If any man (or woman), loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him (or her), be Anathema Maranatha! In other words, let them be damned! Christ is Coming!

When is He coming? I don’t know, but if the Apostle John said it was the last days in 90 A.D. (see First John 2:18), it must be nearing the last days of the last days over 1900 years later! How is He coming? In like manner as you have seen Him go away. (see Acts 1: 11) Why is He coming? To take His children to be with Himself (see John 14:6), and to execute judgment on the ungodly. (See Jude 14,15) Oh what a day of glory that will be for some, and what a day of anguish it will be for others! (see John 5:29) When is He coming? No man knows the day nor the hour.( Mark 13:32)

Maranatha! He shall come. I know, many do not believe it. Peter said it would be so. (See Second Peter 3:3,4) Remember the Jews had it wrong the first coming of Christ. They thought He would come as a warrior taking vengeance on their enemies, and sit on the throne to rule with a rod of iron. They apparently got it mixed up with His second Coming. He has been a stumbling block to the Jews. But the time of the gentiles is almost over. Maranatha! He shall come. A lot of eschatology, and much of our theology in general will be straightened out when He comes. We used to ask the late Dr. B.B. Caldwell “What position do you take on the coming of Christ? Are you pre-millennial, post-millennial , or a-millennial?” He would just look at us younger preachers (at that time in the 1970’s), smack his lips and say; “I’m a looker.” Well, I don’t have it all figured out so I guess I am also a looker. The word does say : “ So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

“The solemn declaration stands here, that if they do not love the Lord Jesus, they will be, and they ought to be, devoted to destruction. The Lord Jesus will soon return to make investigation, and to judge the world. There will be no escape; and no tongue can express the awful horrors of an ETERNAL CURSE PRONOUNCED BY THE LIPS OF THE SON OF GOD!(5)


(1) Vance Havner, Fleming Revell, Old Tappan,NJ, 1964 (OOP)

(2) Unknown author, Reiner Publications, Swengel, PA, 1970, (OOP)

(3) Nave’s Study Bible, glossary, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1978

(4) Gleanings from Paul, chapter six, Prayers for Weaker Brothers, online ed.

(5) Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Ages Library edition. Public domain. (Some emphasis mine. CW)

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” Paul’s prayer, and mine for you all, Charles

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HYPER-CALVINIST- Charles Woodruff

Hyper-Calvinist! More and more frequently I hear this term used. What does it mean? We must check the definition of some of the terms people use since everyone seems to have different ideas in regard to meanings of words. I remember distinctly a person once asking me, "Who is this fellow 'Hyper Calvin'?" This person seemed to think "Hyper" was John Calvin's brother! So, I say it is time to clarify some terms.

According to Webster, the prefix "hyper" is from Greek and means "over, above, in behalf of, it usually implies excess."(1) So we could say that a hyper-Calvinist is an excessive Calvinist just as a hyper­active child is excessively active or over and above normal in activity. Another theological use of "hyper" is found in "hyper-dispensationalist" or one who goes to extremes in marking off dispensations, or epochs, of time in God's dealing with man.

Calvinist, in some areas of the world is a particular religious denomination, but in most areas it is a general term meaning: “(1) a follower of Calvin; (2) one who embraces the theological doctrines of Calvin.” (2)

As for the first part of this definition I cannot find much sympathy, for I (as every true Christian must be) am a follower of Jesus Christ, not John Calvin! John Calvin did not die for my sins nor did his arch-rival Jacob Arminius! Jesus Christ died for my sins! (I Cor. 15:3). Blessed is that name, Jesus, above every name (Phil. 2:9, 10). It is the only name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). No, I do not follow Calvin — I follow Christ!

Now before I go any further let me state that John Calvin, like many before and after him, was a worthy theologian. I have gained much from reading his sermons and commentaries. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is a monumental work. In it you find the marrow of the great Reformer's theology. But scripturally I cannot follow Calvin. I can learn from him, as he was one whom God used to "speak the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). Martin Luther was also used of God in this way. This does not mean Luther or Calvin were infallible men. Luther never did really accept the book of James or the book of Revelation as divinely inspired. He had a "blind spot" here. Because he had come out of the ritualistic, works-religion of Catholicism, Luther could not grasp the meaning of James saying, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20).

Calvin also had come out of the Catholic Church and did not have absolute truth on all matters. Of course, none of us do! There were some errors in Calvin's teaching, so even the second part of our definition could not be embraced by a real Bible Christian without some reservation. Remember the definition? "One who embraces the theological doctrines of Calvin." Dear Christian reader, could you do that unequivocally?

Webster defines Calvinism as "the theological doctrines of Calvin....the distinguishing doctrines of this system are predestination, particular redemption, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the certain perseverance of the saints." (3) These were certainly things that Calvin believed. To summarize these teachings we often put all these so called five points of Calvinism under the general heading of God's sovereignty. Certainly, any grounded student of scripture must concede that God is Sovereign (the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, the Highest Authority). It is an issue today in the church because many fail to recognize this authority. (See two articles by the author, "What Jesus Christ Said about God's Sovereignty" and "The Issue of the Sovereignty of God Today" Write, or email me for online, or printed, copies.)

The teaching of God's Sovereignty is certainly not exclusive to John Calvin. All these related truths mentioned are, when rightly taught and understood, completely scriptural whether John Calvin taught them or not. Our criteria must be: Thus saith the Lord God! And beginning with man's total depravity, as God does in the biblical doctrine of salvation, it is clear that only a Supreme Ruler, a Sovereign God can save a vile, wretched sinner. Yes, God is in total control!

But of our subject, "Hyper-Calvinism", it can be said that some go beyond Bible truth in several areas, and could legitimately be termed hyper-Calvinists because they go far beyond what Calvin himself taught on some points. For instance, a popular misconception regarding what Calvinists believe concerns predestination. Some say that all Calvinists believe that God has predestined some for heaven, others He predestined to hell including the "non-elect" who die in infancy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth of scripture and, in all fairness, Calvin did not teach this and nothing could be further from the teaching of 99% of those called Calvinists. Partly to blame for this thinking is the poem, "The Day of Doom" by Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705).(4) In this poem infants are depicted as standing before God and being condemned to hell for sin which they would have committed had they lived. No doubt in Puritan Massachusetts in 1662, when this poem was written, there were some who totally agreed with its conclusion. Maybe there are some today who do. If so, they go beyond Calvin who never taught such a teaching. We could say that those who teach as scriptural truth the damnation of infants are definitely hyper-Calvinists.

Scripture teaches that all men without God are depraved sinners bound for hell. God in mercy has done for some men what they could not do. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). God must open blinded eyes or none see. "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1). Dead sinners must be brought to life by the regenerating Holy Spirit! This is not just Calvinistic doctrine — this is the Word of God! So God doesn't have to predestine or elect these dead sinners to hell. They are condemned already because they have not believed (John 3:18). Conversely, God must elect or predestine some to heaven or all die. I do not in this article want to survey all the theology involved here, but merely point out that this is the Biblical truth of God's predestination. Some say this interferes with man's will. But man's whole being, including his will, is depraved and dead. "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Romans 9:16). As a matter of fact, reading the entire ninth chapter of Romans should forever shut men's mouths and shut them up to the Sovereignty of God! That God is in control of all things is not hyper-Calvinism, but solid Bible truth. "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" (Ephesians 1:11).
To sum up our little examination and to determine what and who is a hyper-Calvinist check the following points:
1. A hyper-Calvinist is one who follows Calvin rather than the teachings of the Bible even when the Bible and Calvin are not in harmony. Remember, the Bible, not any man, is the final authority and the Christian's only rule of faith and practice.
2. A hyper-Calvinist thinks more of converting men to the system of Calvinism than pointing men to Christ. There is nothing wrong per se with systematic theology if it is setting forth scripture. The Philadelphia Confession and Westminster Confession both are good to help crystallize our beliefs as long as they don't blindly become our "Bible." We must do the same as the noble Bereans~ and “search the scriptures" (Acts 17:11).
3. A hyper-Calvinist carries the teachings of God's Sovereignty to unscriptural extremes and has no vision for evangelism and teaches that the elect will be saved "anyhow." Here we are actually speaking of two great dangers from the unscriptural extremes. First, the belief that God will save His chosen "anyhow" leads us to do nothing to reach them, which is unscriptural. Secondly, it leads the untaught convert to believe that because he is elect he will go to heaven anyhow without a changed heart, which is also not a scriptural truth. "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).

John Calvin never taught such a doctrine. Here I quote Charles Spurgeon, who certainly was evangelistic in practice. "Oh I do not know of a more thoroughly damnable delusion than for a man to get a conceit in his head, that he is a child of God and yet live in sin — to talk to you about Sovereign Grace while he is living in sovereign lust."

And regarding Calvin he says: "A Calvinist I am, but John Calvin never taught immoral doctrine. A more consistent expositor of scripture than that great reformer I believe never lived, but his doctrine is not the Hyper-Calvinism of these modern times, but is as diametrically opposed to it as light to darkness. There is not one word in any of his writings that would justify any man going on in iniquity that grace might abound. If you do not hate sin it is all the same what doctrine you believe! You may go to perdition as rapidly with High Calvinistic doctrine as with any other" (emphasis mine).

So, as I have already pointed out some failures of this great reformer whose shoes I am not worthy to shine, let us not accuse him falsely. He believed that converted men were saved from their sin, not to live in them. A hyper-Calvinist teaches God’s Sovereignty which is scriptural, but is "lopsided" and does not balance this teaching with other teachings of the Word, which also must be taught. A hyper-Calvinist has a party spirit and will not fellowship with others who may not see the truths of Sovereignty. Oftentimes these brethren forget that they have not always seen these great truths themselves, and they also forget that God must reveal the truth to men or they will never see it. The Bible is so strong about this party spirit that we must be extremely careful not to unnecessarily divide good Bible-believing Christians. When you preach God's Sovereignty you will automatically alienate some, so there is no justification for rejecting those who do not reject us. Ironically, those who have such a party spirit often feel they are very spiritual, but what saith God? "For while one saith, I am of Paul and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (I Corinthians 3:4-6). It would be a blessing if we could totally lay aside denomination and doctrinal-system terms and just be Christians. This is the only thing God will look at anyhow! I realize, however, because of liberalism, we must say for identification that we are fundamentalists, or evangelicals. Because there are Catholics, we must identify ourselves as Protestants and Baptists. People want to know where we stand, but above all let us stand with the Word of the living God and whatever our doctrinal persuasion, be above all a Christian! cw

(1) Webster's Universal Dictionary (1937 edition; World Publishing; New York).
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) found online at

(adapted from
Most Calvinists reject as deplorable the following hyper-Calvinistic and destructive beliefs:
- that God is the author of sin and of evil
- that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
- that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men
- that it is wrong to evangelize
- that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith
- that men who have once sincerely professed belief are saved regardless of what they later do
- that God has chosen some races of men and has rejected others
- that the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are certainly damned
- that God does not command everyone to repent
- that the true church is only invisible, and salvation is not connected with the visible church
- that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
- that the grace of God does not work for the betterment of all men
- that saving faith is equivalent to belief in the doctrine of predestination
- that only Calvinists are Christians (Neo-gnostic Calvinism).

Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism were both among the historical errors battled by Charles Spurgeon, who was himself a five point Calvinist. He vigilantly fought these twin errors on both sides of the spectrum. One of Hyper-Calvinism's main errors is to declare that, because of God's sovereignty, we should not evangelize the lost. Spurgeon rejected such nonsense as do the large majority of people who would call themselves Calvinists today (such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg and many others) We believe the doctrine of election should be declared strongly because the Bible does and because man's affections are enslaved to sin. He cannot save himself but needs the effectual working of the Holy Spirit if he is to have ears to hear when we preach the gospel. The preacher casts forth the seed of the gospel (the command to believe) indiscriminately but the Holy Spirit germinates the Word (so to speak) in the hearts of those he intends to save; i.e. those given to the Son by the Father in the eternal covenant made before time (John 6:37, 39, Eph 1, 4). Many Christian missionaries whom most would consider heroes held to the five points of Calvinism: William Carey (he was opposed by a Hyper-Calvinist), Jonathan Edwards & David Brainard (missionaries to native Americans) just to name three.