Archive for the ‘calvinism’ category

God’s Sovereignty

April 19, 2009

My most precious fiance lent me a great book, “Trusting God”, by Jerry Bridges:

http://www.amazon.com/Trusting-God-Even-When-Hurts/dp/0891096175

And this book impressed me so much that I have to share some thoughts.

 

There were things that we thought about, but (as far as I’ve seen) no-one formulated it so well: God is sovereign on EVERYTHING. Not just on salvation, when it comes to our lives as Christians, but also on every other aspect of our life, on all nations, on wicked men, on nature.

Particularly important I found the chapter “God’s sovereignty and our responsibility”, also dealing with “Our failures and God’s sovereignty”.

 

After reading this book I came to believe that we have the Old Testament mainly to reveal the way God carries out His divine plan and how everything is being subjected to this purpose. We don’t have the theology of the Christianity in the Old Testament (in the way we have it in, for instance, Romans or Ephesians), but we can see clearly how God unfolds His plan according to His good pleasure.

 

God’s sovereignty is crucial. 

We can call it the arminianism vs calvinism controversy, but take His sovereignty out of the Bible and we are left off with some custom-made god we created according to our imagination.

Everything is affected by the fact that God is sovereign (or not).

Sovereign in our salvation, in the way it is initiated, in the way we are kept in His will. But also everything happens to us in our daily walk with Him.

 

A quote from the book which I liked a lot:

“God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to power to bring it about”

The Duty of Self-Denial, by Thomas Watson

February 16, 2009

Excerpts from: The Duty of Self-Denial

Luke 9:23
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14:27
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple

Matthew 10:38
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me

John 12:25
He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Romans 8:13
if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Practical issues: what does it mean?

1. A Christian must deny his reason

Reason must be denied in credendis and in agendis.
In credendis (doctrines to be believed): the doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection
In agendis (in duties anjoined to be practiced

2. A Christian must deny his will.

Here we must deny our will and bring it to God’s will. If a crooked stick is laid upon the ground that is level, we do not try to bring the ground even with the stick, but to make the stick even to the ground. So God’s will is not to be brought to ours, but our will being crooked must be brought to God’s will. We pray, “Thy will be done.” The way to have our will is to deny it.

3. A Christian must deny his own righteousness, his civilities, duties, and good works

Philippians 3:9
…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

4. A Christian must deny all self-confidence

Matthew 26:33-34
But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”
Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Matthew 26:72
And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

Romans 11:20
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

1. Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Revelation 3:17
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

5. A Christian must deny self-conceit

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

I Corinthians 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Ezekiel 28:2
Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
       ” ‘In the pride of your heart
       you say, “I am a god;
       I sit on the throne of a god
       in the heart of the seas.”
       But you are a man and not a god,
       though you think you are as wise as a god.

Your dark side is broader than your light side. Your ignorance is more than your knowledge. Your knowledge is but the light of a torch, your ignorance as the Cimmerian darkness. You have no cause to be conceited of the knowledge you have, but rather to be humbled for what you lack.

6.A Christian must deny his appetite

Proverbs 30:15
There are three things that are never satisfied,
       four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

1 Corinthians 9:27
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Philippians 3:19
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

7. A Christian must deny his ease
Proverbs 19:24
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Matthew 25:26
But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.

8.A Christian must deny carnal policy (the wisdom of the flesh)

2 Corinthians 1:12
For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

9. A Christian must deny his inordinate passions

James 1:26
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

James 3:6 
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

10. A Christian must deny his sinful fashions

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Corinthians 11:14
Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,

1 Timothy 2:9
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments

11. A Christian must deny his own aims, must not aim at self-applause

John 1:15
John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'”

1 Peter 4:11
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ

12. A Christian must deny all ungodliness

Titus 2:11-12 
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
instructing us to deny ungodliness and   worldly desires and   to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

13. A Christian must deny his relations

Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

14. A Christian must deny his estate for Christ

Matthew 19:22
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have   treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

15. A Christian must deny his life for Christ

Again, Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Mark 8:38
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation,   the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He   comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Practical Wisdom (not only for calvinists)

January 25, 2009

Before I writing about Puritan and calvinist works, I’d like to post something written by Darryl M. Erkel. 

Firstly, I’ll see it more often (if posted here on the blog) and secondly, maybe some one else will find it good too:

  • Recognize that Salvation is Broader than the Calvinist Camp.
  • God commands us to accept one another in Christ, in spite of our differences 
  • Calvinism is not the Gospel
  • Scripture alone is the final standard of authority for doctrine and practice
  • Be very careful about accepting entire systems of theology
  • The truth is, some aspects of Reformed theology are erroneous (like infant baptism)
  • Don’t View Any Period of Church History as Perfect (e.g., the Protestant Reformation of the 16.th Century),Nor Any Particular Group of Christians (e.g., the Reformers, Puritans, Anabaptists)
  • Be the Model of Humility and Love
  • Recognize That You Can Learn From Those Who Are Outside of the Reformed Camp.
  • Seek to Be A Man/Woman of the Text of Scripture.
  • Recognize That Your Greatest Power is Found in Prayer.

It was written with the calvinist theology in mind, but it can be just as good applied for Puritan writings.

Here the complete text: Practical Wisdom For Calvinists

Carnal Christian!?

January 25, 2009

He was a regular guy, grew up in the church, “received Jesus” and was baptised at 16, enjoyed youth groups and youth conferences, even the church sometimes (not always), used to (and liked to) sing in the church (including choir).

Nevertheless, after a while he didn’t want God anymore in his life.

But let’s have a closer look at him:

-Did he enjoy reading the Bible? Not really. Well, at times preachers/youth ministers would have prod him to read his Bible more, but it didn’t last.

-Prayer? The same. Not passionate about it, it was rather “got to do it because they say so”. Before leaving for a trip his mother would say “let’s pray” and he always thought “here she comes again…do we have to go through that every time?”

-Also related to sharing the Gospel, at times they had in that city Evangelizing rallies, and that would prod him to be there and occasionaly witness to others about Christ, but it was always (as far as he can remember) in the flesh. The Spirit of God was never there. And I assume it could go on.

-Was he worldly? You couldn’t tell that by the way he dressed, or talked, but in his heart he was always attracted to what the world had to offer. A minister asked him to accompany him in his missions. He didn’t want to because he would miss Sunday afternoons, when they had good TV shows. And because he was not passionate about the missions (and even in the countryside!? if it were at least in some bigger cities…). Then, friends from a youth choir would gather on Saturday evening to practise. For him would have been unconceivable to give up this precious time of the week.

-He once even held the morning prayer service (it was a small country church)

– A group of Christian young men came once to his city (they were Americans) and he asked one of them whether he liked Bruce Willis. For our guy the response wassurprising: “No, I don’t. Too much like the world”. He thought “not to like Bruce Willis!?”

It is so easy to “act” being a Christian (he didn’t do it consciously, of course). You have to have the right friends (in the church), go out mostly to “Christian” (birthday) parties and weddings, show up nicely in the church Sunday morning and in the youth groups and in Christian camps, etc.

Obviously, I was not bearing fruit (because I was the guy, of course). All these could be done (and were) in the flesh. The others didn’t know it, but, even worse, I didn’t know it myself. 

For all these years I thought that I was a saved Christian and that I went away from God. Now, when I think back, it is obvious that I wasn’t saved. I only thought I was. Because:

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? (Matthew 7:16)

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21)

And:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! … (2 Corinthians 13:5)

There’s no such thing as a “carnal Christian”!

Paul Washer

January 12, 2009

Did you try to picture how would John the Baptist look like? (in his preaching)

Or the apostle Paul?

I  think it would look like Paul Washer. Powerful and fierce for the Lord. A kind of Leonard Ravenhill (I never heard him preach, like I did Paul Washer, but I read “Why revival tarries”. And the tone is the same).

Then, at times I would think about what it would take to be invited on a national TV program to talk about Jesus. And to be invited again.

Again, I think about the John the Baptist, who preach against Herod and his affair, and about Paul and Barnabas who were imprisoned and stoned because of their message against the world. I think it is almost impossible to preach the same message these men of faith did and be liked or invited again. Sure, there are enough godly preachers whose message is biblical and maybe even have national audience at some point in time. But none of them is as fierce as Paul Washer (or at least I didn’t hear anyone like him). 

I think he not only would never be invited again, but his message would last maybe 2 minutes, after that any producer in the world would cut him off. You won’t hear from him anything that is ear-itching. Even in evangelical circles he is not wanted to preach. Like it was the case with the speech he gave at 2002 Youth Evangelism Conference in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. He was speaking about what he thought it was wrong with Evangelicalism (at least in US). Very harsh. And when some applauded, he said “Why are you clapping!? I’m talking about you here.” You could hear a pin drop. Of course he was never invited again (and I’m sure he will never be).

This video is Shocking message. It is a must see, I think.

He also maintains that “the sinner’s prayer” is the greatest heresy in American Evengelicalism and that this sent a lot of people to hell. 

And I think he has a point.

Another (somehow similar video) is 10 Indictments Against the Modern Day Church

Paul Washer is definitely worth reading and hearing. 

Listening to him definitely makes one want to know God more, to love Him more, to let Him have more of us, to love our neighbour more.

And he reminds people all the time that nothing is about us and that everything is about Christ.

What else I learned from him: 

– doctrine matters (even if it is not enough)

-the best way to be against the culture is to be biblically oriented

-to read about the puritans

-that the doctrine of “carnal christians”, so loved in the Evangelical churches, is a trap, and it’s not biblical

John MacArthur

January 12, 2009

John MacArthur is the first preacher I heard tell about the pragmatism in our modern church. In short, this theory (which fits the American way of life) says that if you get results as a church (many church visitors, many getting saved, etc) then your methods are good. If you have results, then it’s a good method. Of course, there are also extreme methods (like “emerging church” or “purpose-driven church”), but I assume this is always tempting, even if we don’t get as far as Saddleback or Willow Creek. 

In my opinion, MacArthur has a sound doctrine (and of course this should be the most important factor). By the way, he’s a calvinist (not sure whether a five-point one, but he has a good dose of calvinism nevertheless).

By the way, a joke from one of his Q&A sessions. Someone asked if there will be pets in heaven or animals altogether. And he replied “no, there’s no evidence in the Bible that there will be animals in heaven”. Ok, did he continue, we are told in Revelation that Lord Jesus will ride a white horse. And, then, in a tone of “ok, you got me here”, “Yes, there will be a white horse in heaven. But that’s all” 😉

For me, he (and his ministry, Grace to you) has been a blessing (and continues to be). A lot of free sermons, on virtually every topic.