Raising Lazarus Has Nothing to do with Calvinism

One of the favorite pastimes of Calvinists is to see Calvinism’s view of salvation in passages that have nothing to do with salvation.

A classic example is John 11 and the raising of Lazarus.

Many times I have heard a Calvinist tell me that salvation is like Lazarus getting up from the grave. Non-Calvinist evangelism is just preaching in a cemetery. You can’t raise the dead! Only God can do that! God raises you up and then you believe.

Right off the bat, what you’ll notice about John 11 is that at no point does Jesus say that what He’s about to do is an illustration of how salvation works. Nowhere does He say, “In like manner, so to will you be saved when God raises you up and saves you like I did Lazarus.”

Nope, not there. You won’t find it. Nothing in the passage indicates that Jesus is doing an object lesson of salvation.

In fact, Jesus does come out and tell people what the whole point of the resurrection of Lazarus is all about–it’s so Israel might believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Again, as I said yesterday, people who hold to Covenant Theology, like Calvin did, are Calvinists. Covenant Theology does not see the distinction between Israel and the Church like Dispensational Theology does. Not only does this cloud their understanding of Romans 9-11, it clouds them on many passages.

The disciples are clueless about what is going on with Lazarus, they think he’s taking a nap. Since disciples can’t even tell when a guy is dead, I’m pretty sure this eliminates this being an elaborate, hidden parable of how salvation works.

Jesus says to His confused disciples, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Jesus says He’s glad Lazarus is dead, because it will give His disciples an opportunity to believe. To believe what? The same thing as what Martha was asked to believe:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Martha is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. If He has power to raise the dead, then you know this is the Messiah. As Jesus told John the Baptist when he doubted:

The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

The whole point of raising Lazarus was to convince people to believe! Note what He said earlier: “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

When you believe, you cease being dead and come alive! Believing is what turns that corner.

If Jesus were doing this to illustrate Calvinism, no doubt He would have said, “God will raise you up so you might believe and then I can stop wasting my time trying to show you signs so you will believe.”

He didn’t. Instead He uses all this to ask people to believe. He wraps up the whole scene with this:

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

He does things so that people might believe. He leaves it up to them after making it obvious who He was. If they want Him, they can get Him. Jesus is no Calvinist. And thank God for that.