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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
This interesting post has been reblogged from Monergism:
Almost a decade ago I was involved in a titanic spiritual battle between two opposing theological views. I could feel the once rock solid doctrines of free will slipping through my fingers like fine sand. I begged and beseeched the Lord to deliver me from the relentless reasonings and scriptural bombshells ripping the house I had built on the shifting dunes of man-centered doctrines. My pride and self-respect were on the line.
See, for the first decade of my born-again life I embraced a form of Arminianism that many call Semi-Pelagianism. Simply put, I believed that man’s free will is the deciding factor in salvation. Calvinism, which is the belief that God is sovereign over all things, including man’s salvation, had recently started making sense to me and I was drawn to it. (While at the same time being repulsed by it).
Calvinism was a dirty word in my old church. I considered it to be on equal footing with cultic beliefs.
I used to say such things as:
“Calvinism is a doctrine of demons!”
Or worse yet:
“If God is like how the Calvinists describe him, I would never serve such a cruel, heartless dictator who arbitrarily chooses who will and will not be saved!”
We many times moan and whinge when things do not go right. We grit our teeth at God when we see a maze before our eyes. Have you ever thought of the sovereignty of God? Have you ever understood the mind of God? May this testimony of John Farese be an encouragement. Crippled for most of his life but profoundly sober in his understanding of God’s sovereignty and scripture:
Studying The Heidelberg Catechism has helped me come to understand the Sovereignty of God. First published in 1563, this is a document of the Reformed Christian faith which is used by many churches. Many people especially if you are like me (from a Word of Faith and Charismatic background with bits and pieces of gleaned aberrant theology) come to find a lot of theological depth in the different questions and answers with scriptural references in this Reformed document. I for one would get worried that the devil would ‘make me backslide’ or come against me on a vengeance trip and cause me to fearfully ‘lose my salvation’. What if a generational curse pursued me all my life and couldn’t be broken by my pastor? What if I didn’t tithe enough or sow enough seed to guarantee a good standing with Jesus? What if…what if …what if? However starting with the first question of this Catechism one comes to learn the depth of the riches of the grace of God. I have come to learn that my comfort in life and death has a lot more to do with Jesus to whom I belong. Oh how comforting! How very comforting? One good study guide that I would recommend on The Heidelberg Catechism is this one by G.I Williamson. It has numerous scripture references and is well structured for either individual or family study. Now, the very first question of the Catechism causes me to smile with confidence not in myself or my ability but in my God and faithful Savior.
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my Own,
but belong body and soul, in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
To be enabled to form a clear, consistent, and comprehensive judgment of the truths revealed in the Scripture, is a great privilege; but they who possess it are exposed to the temptation of thinking too highly of themselves, and too meanly of others, especially of those who not only refuse to adopt their sentiments, but venture to oppose them. We see few controversial writings, however excellent in other respects, but are tinctured with this spirit of self-superiority; and they who are not called to this service (of writing) if they are attentive to what passes in their hearts, may feel it working within them, upon a thousand occasions; though so far as it prevails, it brings forcibly home to ourselves the charge of ignorance and inconsistence, which we are so ready to fix upon our opponents. I know nothing as a means more likely to correct this evil, than a serious consideration of the amazing difference between our acquired judgment, and our actual experience; or, in other words, how little influence our knowledge and judgment have upon our own conduct. This may confirm to us the truth and propriety of the apostle’s observation, “If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” Not that we are bound to be insensible that the Lord has taught us what we were once ignorant of; nor is it possible that we should be so; yet because, if we estimate our knowledge by its effects, and value it no farther than it is experimental and operative (which is the proper standard whereby to try it), we shall find it so faint and feeble as hardly to deserve the name. …Read More!
God arms the devil, as well as all the wicked, for conflict, and sits as umpire, that he may exercise our patience. But if the disasters and miseries which press us happen without the agency of men, let us call to mind the doctrine of the Law (Deut. 28:1), that all prosperity has its source in the blessing of God, that all adversity is his curse. And let us tremble at the dreadful denunciation, “And if ye will not be reformed by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you,” (Lev. 26:23, 24). These words condemn our torpor, when, according to our carnal sense, deeming that whatever happens in any way is fortuitous, we are neither animated by the kindness of God to worship him, nor by his scourge stimulated to repentance. And it is for this reason that Jeremiah (Lament. 3:38), and Amos (Amos 3:6), expostulated bitterly with the Jews, for not believing that good as well as evil was produced by the command of God. To the same effect are the words in Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things,” (Is. 45:7). Institutes 1.17.8
HT: Jim West
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.