A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Tag Archives: doctrines of grace

A Dummy’s Guide to Calvinism

The Crucifixion- Matthias Grunewald (1470-1528)

Is there a God? Is He sitting some where twiddling His thumbs or biting His finger nails as the world spirals into debauchery? Ever fancied taking a peek over His shoulder and catching Him taking a cat nap or slumped over in a yoga- pose with legs helplessly inter twined?  Calvinism is associated with Reformed Theology the Theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes and underlines the vitally important truth that God  is in control of all things, not man; that God is the source of salvation; and that men and women can do nothing to save themselves. It emphasises our total dependence as guilty sinners on the mercy and grace of God for salvation. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation. Read More

New to Calvinism and already wielding a FIVE pronged pitch fork?

[This post was first published in April 2012] It’s a common thing to see believers come across the Doctrines of Grace and then with their new mantle and a banner screaming in the air go out in search of “Arminians” of any stripe and kind.The elixir of grace does feel intoxicating but should not be an excuse to become lawless. We should always remember that our own salvation was not because of any thing we did or deserved but it was despite our wretchedness that Christ opened our eyes through the inner working of the Holy Spirit. Micah Burke recalls in a post written to encourage those new to Reformed theology or Calvinism:

There was a time, over a decade ago, when someone introduced me to the Doctrines of Grace. For a few years after that moment, the amazing truth of God’s exhaustive sovereignty was all I sought to talk about. When the church I was attending made it clear that Calvinism was unwelcome, I left and found a church where the pastor was Calvinistic, soon he was out and the Purpose Driven movement took root, I fought what I saw was (and truly is) an affront to God’s Word and sovereignty and eventually was pushed to the periphery of the church. My wife and I sought a new church and found one that was confessional, and true to the Word of God.

Given these experiences, I have a few suggestions for those folks who find themselves newly exposed to the concepts of Calvinism, the Reformed understanding of the faith and the Doctrines of Grace in general.

One caveat… most of these points refer to where you are NOW. The intention is to get you solid food, grow you in the faith, and prepare you for your purpose in the economy of God.

  1. Realize there is more to Reformed theology then just TULIP. – Reformed theology covers the gamut of theological concepts from soteriology (the understanding of how salvation occurs) to eschatology (the end times.) Don’t be so focused on TULIP that you miss the foundations for it. …Read More!

Hijab Wearing Lady Hears About Grace of God

;

[This post was first published in March 2011] God is alive and He is involved in even the minutest of events around us, with this concept in mind meet a good friend of mine called Kathy, a hijab wearing American (not any more though). This is her extra ordinary testimony. A gracious journey to repentance and faith in Christ:

I have long wrestled with the idea of writing my testimony, because I really don’t know what to say. Though from the outside it may appear to others that my life has been an interesting one, it has, in fact, been only a series of really bad choices to bring me to the point where I am now. It is none of my own doing that brought me to the peace I finally find myself in, but rather it is entirely of God. And for that I am eternally thankful.

There is nothing terribly unusual about my childhood. Like many kids my age, I grew up knowing nothing of the idyllic 50’s sitcom families like Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and so on. In fact, by the time I was born it was the 60’s, an era of change. My early childhood was lived, like many kids in the early 70’s marked by divorce, split and blended families, latch-keys and uncertainty. My parents divorced when I was seven years old. My brother and I chose to live in different places, and I went with our mother, while he stayed with our father. My father remarried, and within a couple years, I too was living with him, because my mother’s health prevented my staying with her. She’d had a stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to take care of herself, let alone a child.

Read more of this post

Total Depravity: Debunking Common Straw Man Arguments

The usual way of arguing against one of the doctrines of grace is first, to misrepresent it so badly that no serious student of the Scripture would ever embrace it; then totally demolish it with arguments that have nothing at all to do with the issue. You have heard these straw man arguments before. Now we shall boldly look at them and debunk them one straw at a time. Some say the doctrine of total depravity (inability) cannot be true because:

1. The Bible teaches that all are responsible to believe and repent.

2.The Bible teaches that man has a will (choice). Man is not a robot or a puppet.

3. Every man does not act as sinfully as he is capable of acting.

4. Even wicked men perform acts which are good in the sight of other people.

Well…

1. The Bible teaches that men, controlled by a sinful nature, are not able to believe or repent. The person who believes in free grace has no argument with the truth that sinners are responsible. …Read More!

Can I Be A One-Point Calvinist?

You have heard of people calling them selves three-point or four point Calvinists and others parading banners of the New-Calvinist fame. But in what context do all these variances arise? J.I. Packer makes a very interesting point:

The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points (a number due, as we saw, merely to the fact that there were five Arminian points for the Synod of Dort to answer) tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. Read More

A Quiz For My Arminian Friends

I hope this Theology quiz goes the distance to help you understand your Bible and appreciate that God is the author of salvation. He alone can sustain a Christian and will complete the work He started on the day He glorifies him.

So Who Are The Reformed Baptists?

History

After the time of the apostles, churches continued to multiply everywhere. As the years passed, many churches began to depart from the teachings of the Bible. Superstition and human traditions were propagated as truth. Wars were waged in the name of Christianity. Immorality, idolatry and corruption were rampant in the so-called Christian world. The true Christians were a persecuted minority.

In the 16th century, God brought about a mighty stirring inEurope, causing many people to seek Him and hunger after the truth. This is now called the Reformation. Despite the attempts of the older churches to counter this movement, new churches were founded right through to the 17th century.

InEngland, the Particular Baptist churches arose in the first half of the 17th century. They were known as Baptists because, unlike the other reformed churches, they held to the baptism of believers by immersion. They were known as Particular Baptists because, unlike the General Baptists, they held to the doctrine of ‘particular redemption’, i.e. the belief that Christ died specifically for the elect. There’s More

The Human Will: The Bird With The Broken wing

Excerpt from Loraine Boettner’s classic book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.

Loraine Boettner

Man is a free agent but be cannot originate the love of God in his heart. His will is free in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself. As the bird with a broken wing is “free” to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able. How can he repent of his sin when he loves it? How can he come to God when he hates Him? This is the inability of the will under which man labors. Jesus said, “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil,” John 3 :19; and again, “Ye will not come to me, that ye may have life,” John 5:40. Man’s ruin lies mainly in his own perverse will. He cannot come because he will not. Help enough is provided if he were only willing to accept it. Paul tells us, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God:” Romans 8:7. To assume that because man has ability to love he therefore has ability to love God, is about as wise as to assume that …Read More

Just One More Feral Child

Myths, legends, and fictional stories have depicted feral children reared by wild animals such as wolves and bears. In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ (September 1, 1875 – March 19, 1950) best known literary fictional creation, Tarzan, a British Lord and Lady with their infant son are tragically marooned on the West coast of Africa. The ship they are travelling on is burnt by mutineers and they end up landing near uncharted rainforests. The story goes that the parents die and Tarzan, the little toddler survives. He survives but is brought up as a feral child learning to eat and live with the apes that adopt him. But There’s More

What Were The Confessions of St Augustine?

The grace of Christ, without which no body can be saved, is not bestowed on account of any virtues, but is given gratuitously, which is why it is called ‘grace’. The Reformation witnessed the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over the legacy of the Pelagian view of man. Luther and Calvin quoted Augustine. If we take Augustine at his word, his ability to write the Confessions (the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books) depends entirely upon the discovery of himself in conversion.  From the vantage of eleven years, the 44 year-old Bishop remembers clearly what transpired in his soul that resolved his wanderings and his intellectual discovery in an experience of conversion that informs all of his work for the church.  Understanding conversion is central to any understanding of Augustine. Read More

SOME THINGS NON CALVINISTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CALVINISM

Excerpted from anarticle by Colin Maxwell

An attempt to clear up some of the misunderstandings about Calvinism. This is not meant to be a detailed doctrinal defense of Calvinism’s Doctrines Of Grace.

1) Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are poles apart. The terms are not to be used synonymously. A Hyper-Calvinist is not just a zealous Calvinist. We both consider each other to be “mongrel” Calvinists. No man will actually call himself a Hyper-Calvinist.

2) Yes Calvinists are split into several factions. But then so are many such doctrinal schools e.g. Dispensationalism, Church Government, Worship – do we sing only the Psalms or use hymns? Which hymns? Do we use music? Which music? Which set of texts do we base our Bible translation on? Is it the Textus Receptus that is important or the (KJV) AV? or both? etc.

3) The term free will needs to be defined to avoid confusion. Calvinists will either affirm it or deny it, depending on what they think you mean. This sometimes leads to charges of contradictions. Consult the standard Calvinist Confessions e.g. the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 9 for a defining of terms. But There’s More

The Doctrines of Grace

God has recently given us the opportunity to discuss some theological issues with other Christians who believe differently than we do on a number of points, most notably the doctrines of grace. [This post was adapted from Monergism] In such a circumstance, given the overwhelming supply of scriptural evidence that comes to bear on the topic, it seemed to me that the best approach would be a simple categorized scripture list: the fact that the entire paper would be scriptures, with the exception of a few brief explanatory notes, would underscore the truth that this is God’s own word and teaching; and the fact that it would be categorized would facilitate the ready comparison of scripture with scripture so as to lead one to a full-orbed understanding of the biblical teaching. Although I found a few good scripture lists of that nature available online, none of them was laid out in quite the progression that I was looking for, and so I developed my own. I’m posting it here with just the scripture references. Below, for your convenience I have provided a condensed version and a full version of the study. The study is also available in print from Monergism Books. Read More

St Augustine of Hippo Was Smart!

St Augustiine of Hippo said:

“No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him…Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.”  ~St. Augustine of Hippo 354-430 AD Comments

Tribute To DJ Ward

[pullquote]The sermon here is about how sinners become saints.[/pullquote]Elder D. J. Ward, pastor of Lexington’s Main Street Baptist Church for 19 years, died of complications from lung cancer a couple of years ago. This amazing African-American was a powerful spokesman for the glorious God worshiped through the wall-to-wall window called Calvinism.  Read More

Conrad Mbewe: The Spurgeon of Africa?

Conrad Mbewe has been called the “Spurgeon of Africa.” Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia. This clip is from his sermon on ‘Total Depravity (The doctrines of Grace).
Read More

Election: And The Best Laid Plans of Men and Mice…

The common adage usually goes ‘the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry.’ This short clip on the contrary is about God’s Sovereign plans and in particular his choosing and calling of a sinner to salvation. It is about unconditional election or sometimes called predestination or fore-ordination.

Make a comment

What Were The Confessions of St Augustine?

The grace of Christ, without which no body can be saved, is not bestowed on account of any virtues, but is given gratuitously, which is why it is called ‘grace’. The Reformation witnessed the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over the legacy of the Pelagian view of man. Luther and Calvin quoted Augustine. If we take Augustine at his word, his ability to write the Confessions (the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books) depends entirely upon the discovery of himself in conversion.  From the vantage of eleven years, the 44 year-old Bishop remembers clearly what transpired in his soul that resolved his wanderings and his intellectual discovery in an experience of conversion that informs all of his work for the church.  Understanding conversion is central to any understanding of Augustine. Read More

Hijab Wearing Lady Hears About Grace of God

About a year ago I started blogging. I wrote mostly about things pertinent to my Christian walk. Things like disregard for sound Biblical doctrine, fads and gimmicks being used in church today. My discontentment stemmed from the fact that I seemed to be the biggest hypocrite. I had lived over 15 years of my Christian life  with little regard for doctrine. Or atleast cared less. Every Sunday I went back to church and we seemed to go through the same routine. This last one year has been an intensive boot camp journey that has seen me make new friends and change churches and discover not only the doctrines of grace but also become enthusiastic about sound biblical doctrine in my pursuit to know God more. But who can comprehend the mind of God?

Which brings me to my point today -God. Remember Saul setting out to look for his father’s lost donkeys one morning (1 Samuel 9)? He didn’t have the least inkling who he was going to meet that day. Neither did he know that a prophet was going to cross his path and tell him that he was the one God was going to anoint to be the first king of Israel. The Bible clearly tells us that this unfathomable God  is involved in the very  events around the mortal beings he created and He is knowable. God draws people to Himself through several mundane events. So we see He drew Saul to the right place and at the right time he met Samuel the prophet. Now, with this concept in mind that God is alive and He is involved in even the minutest of events around us, meet a good friend of mine called Kathy, a hijab wearing American (not any more though). This is her extra ordinary testimony. A gracious journey to repentance and faith in Christ: Now Read On

A REVIEW OF MARK CAHILL’S ‘CALVINISM AND THE BIBLE’

Mark Cahill

Mark Cahill recently went nuclear. Leaving behind him a mushroom cloud of raised eyebrows and a hushed silence. His article  decrying  The Doctrines of Grace titled Calvinism and the Bible has been a cause of concern in many evangelical circles. Colin Maxwell graciously put together this wholesome rebuttal as a gentle answer.

Mr Cahill seems to err in a number of main areas, as documented below:

1) Where he is obviously ignorant about what Calvinism teaches e.g. he seems to be unaware that Calvinism believes that man has a will that chooses and is responsible for its actions.

2) Where he attributes things to Calvinism which it does not hold. e.g. that the call to repent in Matthew 4:17 is addressed only to the elect.

3) In his salvic application of his disagreements – if Calvinism is Galatians 1 ground (as he claims at the end of his article) then he has just damned in hell many of the greatest Christians who ever lived, including many of the translators of the KJV, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards etc., As I point out, if he is wrong (the “if” of argument, not of doubt) then he damns more people than Calvinism was ever supposed to do. (Although Calvinism only damns those who will not believe and no one else.) There’s More

SOME THINGS NON CALVINISTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CALVINISM

By Colin Maxwell

An attempt to clear up some of the misunderstandings about Calvinism. This is not meant to be a detailed doctrinal defense of Calvinism’s Doctrines Of Grace.

1) Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are poles apart. The terms are not to be used synonymously. A Hyper-Calvinist is not just a zealous Calvinist. We both consider each other to be “mongrel” Calvinists. No man will actually call himself a Hyper-Calvinist.

2) Yes Calvinists are split into several factions. But then so are many such doctrinal schools e.g. Dispensationalism, Church Government, Worship – do we sing only the Psalms or use hymns? Which hymns? Do we use music? Which music? Which set of texts do we base our Bible translation on? Is it the Textus Receptus that is important or the (KJV) AV? or both? etc.

3) The term free will needs to be defined to avoid confusion. Calvinists will either affirm it or deny it, depending on what they think you mean. This sometimes leads to charges of contradictions. Consult the standard Calvinist Confessions e.g. the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 9 for a defining of terms. But There’s More

The Dangers, Results, and History of Decisional Regeneration

The early years of my Christian walk were blighted by several unanswered questions and countless doctrinal errors. After coming a cross the Doctrines of Grace I was encouraged to know that my salvation had nothing to do with me. God alone chose to save me not because I was good enough. Not because I was more deserving than the next person. God was gracious to me and brought me to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Watch this clip and leave a comment:

Click Here For More

A Dummy’s Guide to Calvinism

The Crucifixion- Matthias Grunewald (1470-1528)

Is there a God? Is He sitting some where twiddling His thumbs or biting His finger nails as the world spirals into debauchery? Ever fancied taking a peek over His shoulder and catching Him taking a cat nap or slumped over in a yoga- pose with legs helplessly inter twined? 

Calvinism is associated with Reformed Theology the Theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes and underlines the vitally important truth that God  is in control of all things, not man; that God is the source of salvation; and that men and women can do nothing to save themselves. It emphasises our total dependence as guilty sinners on the mercy and grace of God for salvation. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation. Read More