Election is a dangerougs & demoralizing doctrine?

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2

“In this, Peter refutes the greatest objection Arminians have about the doctrine of election. “If election is true, men can live as they please,” Arminians say. “Therefore election is a dangerous and demoralizing doctrine. If people glean their assurance in anyway from election, their holy walk with God will be compromised.”  Peter replies that the very purpose of election it to make men holy. God’s election does not destroy moral effort; rather, as Spurgeon notes: “God’s choice makes chosen men choice men.” And Thomas Watson says, “Sanctification is the earmark of Christ’s sheep.”

God wants to make His elect holy, for He has predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Sin. No one can then say, “I am elect therefore, I not need to be Christlike.” Rather, as Peter implies, a believer should say, “Because I am elect, I cannot avoid being Christlike.” God’s elect cannot be at peace living in sin; they cannot live under sin’s domination (Romans 6:11-14) or live counter to Christ and His will. If we are elect, God has committed all the fullness and glory of His resources to make us like His son. As surely as God has determined to save the elect from eternity past and provided the cross of Calvary as the means of that salvation, so He has determined that the effects of that salvation will be holiness, even into eternity.”

– Joel Beeke, Living For God’s Glory:An Introduction to Calvinism pg 65

According To The Plan: Chapter 3

Photo From Desiring Virtue

I’m reading through According To The Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God In The Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy with the Desiring Virtue Book Club. Unfortunately, most weeks I cannot participate in the group discussion because it is schedule at the same time we start bedtime routine here. Nonetheless, I am so thankful Jessalyn introduced me to this book! I am only on chapter four and it is so thought provoking! I wanted to share a few excerpts from the previous chapter that I have been thinking on over and over.
“All forms of humanism make the enormous assumption that the human mind alone is the final judge of what is or is not true. When people present scientific “proofs” that something is true, it is rarely acknowledged that certain unprovable assumptions have to be made. It is assumed that the human senses and reason actually make contact with what is there, and that they are capable of assessing the meaning of what is there. In other words, man’s experiences become the final point of reference for what is true.”

“Man was created to know God. Every fact in the universe speaks of its creator and is open for us to discern. In addition, the image of God in us means that we know ourselves only as we know God, and know God only as we know ourselves. God’s eternal power and divine character can be discerned from nature,  which includes humankind. Man in the image of God communicates by word, and this reflects the fact that God is the one who communicates by word. The first word of God to man indicated the relationship that God established between himself and man and between man and the rest of creation. (Gen. 1:28-30). God spoke to Adam and told him what he needed to know about himself and his relationship with God. Thus, every word from God to man interprets the meaning of reality.

That part in bold and especially the underlined part really got me thinking. I started asking myself if I really lived like every word from God to us (the Bible) determines the meaning of reality, or do I rely more upon experiences?

“Presuppositions, then, are the assumptions we make in order to hold some fact to be true. We cannot go on indefinitely saying, “I know this is true because …” In the end we must come that which we accept as the final authority. By definition a final authority cannot be proven as an authority on the basis of some higher authority. The highest authority must be self-attesting. Only God is such an authority.

The presuppositions we must make in doing biblical theology are those of Christian theism. The alternative to this is to accept the presuppositions of some form of humanism. Either we work on the basis of a sovereign, self-proving God who speaks to us by a word that we accept as true simply because it is His word, or we work on the basis that man is the final judge of all truth. The Christian position, to be consistent, accepts that the Bible is God’s Word and that is says what God wants to say in exactly the way He wants to say it.”

We all have presuppositions. What are mine? Am I acting as God truly is the final authority or do I prop up men or my own experiences into that place at times? Are my actions on par with what I claim to believe about God’s authority and the Bible?

In Christ,

Reformed Roots

When I mention to people that I am a “Reformed Baptist” in my religious beliefs I usually get some strange and puzzled looks. Unless the person you are talking to is also Reformed, sympathetic to Reformed beliefs, or a hater of John Calvin they generally have no earthly idea what you mean. But even in “Reformed” circles today the word has been watered down. Rev. Watts mentions this watering down in the first chapter of his book What Is A Reformed Church:

“In many cases, the term (Reformed) means little more than some adherence to the “five points of Calvinism.” The term has lost its great historical richness and depth as the struggles of the Reformation have faded into distant history.”

It is true that the history of the Protestant Reformation is all but forgotten by the people today that claim the title “Protestant.” It’s more than a bit sad that they know nothing of where their church came from, the struggles it was birthed out of, or the mighty men and women that gave their lives for her.

The first chapter of Rev. Watts book is titled, “The Distinctives of a Reformed Church.” Before getting into the characteristic of a Reformed Church one must look at the roots of the term “Reformed” to gain a clear understanding of the word.

The term “Reformed” first came onto the scene in the 1500s. Though, we did see what could be called pre-Reformers as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. However, in the 1500s the term was applied to churches that separated from the corrupt Church of Rome. This separation occurred under the preaching and teaching of the famous Martin Luther. (I am not going to go into his teachings here, but I would encourage everyone to read up on Luther’s story if you are not familiar.) Under Luther’s teachings churches did away with images/icons in the buildings used for public worship and private masses. They also administered both bread and wine at the Lord’s table.

In the mid 1500s the word “Reformed” took on some new meaning. To quote Rev. Watts:

“It was used to identify the so-called Calvinist wing of the Reformation. Enthusiastic supporters of Luther became known as Lutherans, or even as “Adherents of the Augsburg Confession.” But men like John Calvin proceeded much further in reformation with respect to worship, government, and practice, and they came to be identified as “the Church Reformed according to the Word of God.”

As time continued the word “Reformed” took on more meaning. It eventually was associated with the Puritan movement. Again, quoting Rev. Watts:

“The Puritan movement inherited Calvin’s theological legacy but expanded his teaching on law, grace, and the covenants. Believing the visible church was still corrupted by the remains of popery Puritans sought even more thorough reformation according to the Word of God”

So, these are the three historical movements in which the Reformed Church has its roots. All three of these movements have differences, to be sure! But, it’s most important to note their similarities … which we will dive into next week! 😉

Just as an aside, if you have never looked into the history of how the church you belong to came to be, I would encourage you to do so. We tend to put so much emphasis on our genealogy and cultural heritage but focus very little (if at all) on our spiritual heritage. This should not be! Church history is a gift to the church. Reading about the struggles she (the church) has gone through, the men and women that sacrificed all for her, men and women that hated her, etc. … it is all encouraging to the believer today. I can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed in taking on to study this subject.

In Christ,

Mary vs. John The Baptist: Was Jesus Wrong?

Most if the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church amaze me. One of those doctrines is the “Immaculate Conception” also known as the sinlessness of Mary. I’ve always found it puzzling that people that seem to have such a heart for Christ could uphold a doctrine that is basically blasphemy at its core.

I have been reading a book titled The Truth Set Us Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories. So far it has been a pretty decent book. Nuns tell their stories how, just like the Reformers, God led them out of the false religion of Rome and into the Saving grace of Christ by way of His Holy Word. It’s odd how that always seems to happen when people read the Bible! It’s easy to understand why so many brothers and sisters were tortured and burned for their love of the Word, and their desire to get it to the common man through out history.

But, back to Mary. At least one of the former nuns in the book has went into the hurt and betrayal she felt when she learned that most of what the Church had taught her was not in the Bible at all … she talked about purgatory, praying to saints, and Mary. And I found what she said about Mary’s sinless state to be profound and true.

She envoked use of this verse:

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11

Her argument went like this: Obviously, Mary was around at the time this statement was made … shouldn’t she be greater than John the Baptist if she was sinless (since he was a sinner and this isn’t disputed)?  The only logical way to make this verse work with Roman Catholic doctrine is to assume Jesus was wrong or lying.

I’m sure she’s not the first to make this argument, and I don’t doubt Rome has attempted to wiggle out from under Scripture … but I honestly don’t see how they can.

TULIP: L is for Limited Atonement

Limited atonement is the doctrine that teaches Jesus did not die for all. Instead, with his perfectly obedient life and sacrifice, He completely satisfied the justice of the Father and therefore purchased salvation (ever lasting life & reconciliation) for those the Father gave Him. These people are known in the Bible as the elect.


I believe that Christ came to complete Redemption. He did not come to open the door, or make salvation possible. Jesus did his job and he did all the way. He came to buy with his blood the souls of the elect. And that’s what his life, death and Resurrection accomplished. Anything less than this belief is unBiblical (in my opinion). How can a just, righteous God punish men twice for their sins? If Christ did in fact atone for the sins of all how could a just God then send one person to Hell? We go to Hell because of sin. Believers are going to heaven because Christ atoned for their sins. If Christ atoned for the sins of all, then Hell would not exist. Yet, the Bible is clear it does. So, if you reject limited atonement you are left with universal salvation or works based salvation, both of which are not Biblical in the least.

But what does Scripture say?

21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” -Mat. 1:21 (emphasis mine)

12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.-Heb. 9:12 (emphasis mine)

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. -John 6:37,38

24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. -John 10:24-19 (emphasis mine)

It seems, to me, the Bible is clear about the atonement being limited. For me it comes to a simple question. Did Christ complete what He came to do? If we believe he did, then we cannot  believe unlimited atonement. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would see His soul satisfied. If Christ went to the Cross intending to bring salvation to every man, how could He ever be satisfied? How could his work be complete? It could not and would not be. But, praise be to God it is! Christ had good reason to say “It is finished!” It was! Just as a favorite quote of mine says, “The Gospel is good news, not good advice!”

 

For further reading I suggest:
The book of Romans (this book so clearly laid out all the doctrines of grace/TULIP for me)
Limited Atonement
The Atonement: Limited Or Unlimited? (Note: This is a 31 pg pdf file)
Tom Ascol: On Why Every Christian Must Believe Limited Atonement

Daisypath Wedding tickers

In my introduction post for limited atonement, I asked for disputes and got none. I did have about four people click the “disagree” button but no questions/comments refuting or even questioning this doctrine. So, as such, I did not touch on disagreements in this post. If some come up in the comments I may do a follow up entry for them.

TULIP: L is for Limited Atonement? Part 1

I’m doing the post(s) on limited atonement slightly different. I’m going to give a brief explanation of limited atonement in this post and ask for any objections (from Scripture).

So, what is limited atonement? Just what it sounds like – the idea that Jesus did not atone for everyone. Basically, Jesus did not die for everyone. And, if you believe in Hell then you believe in some idea of limited atonement. If you deny this then you are okay with people in hell saying, “Hey! But Jesus died for me too!” So, who did Jesus die for? The elect, i.e. the people that will be in heaven at the end of the age.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Let’s hear your disputes with Scripture references. If you cannot back your dispute with Scripture I won’t be responding to it. I plan to work any disputes into my longer explanation – which I hope to have posted by the end of next week.

Be Blessed,

PS. If you happened to see this post with tons of typos and misspelled words I apologize. I published it before proof reading on accident!

TULIP: U is for Unconditional Election

I want to start explaining unconditional election by explaining election. The reason I want to start at election/predestination is because that alone is a big hang up for some people. I know people that have axed the word election from their Biblical vocabulary entirely. I’m always astonished at people that hate on Calvinists because they use the word election. Election is a Biblical concept, taught from it’s pages which means God is its author. Therefore, since it is a Biblically based concept, everyone should have knowledge of it.

There’s two basic ideas when it comes to predestination/election. The most popular and widely accepted idea (based on my interaction with other humans )is this:

  • Because God is all-knowing He simply looked down the corridors of time and choose the people that He saw would choose Him.

Well, obviously that cannot be reconciled that with the total depravity of man. I discussed here that man is not capable of choosing God while in his natural state. So, that throws idea number one out the window. So what is idea number two? Well it is a highly unpopular one that causes many people to break the second commandment. Here’s idea number two:

  • God choose, for all eternity, who would and would not be saved. He chose who to save and who not to save.

I know, I know … I can hear it now (because I’ve heard lots), “Not my god, oh no my god would never do that.” That is creating an idol. We cannot define God outside of scripture and we certainly should not be in the business of telling God what He can and cannot do.

I understand that this concept can be a hard one to grasp, stomach, accept, etc. Even Christians struggle with it. This is a concept that our flesh rails against massively. As humans we love the idea of saving ourselves and taking the glory away from God. Sometimes it takes just that little bit to quiet our flesh — for example, claiming we chose God.

But, let’s just see what the Bible says about predestination/election (because, again, it is a Biblical concept and everyone ought to have some sort of belief on it).

I think we can see election/predestination being played out in this passage as we hear God say He is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.

1 And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:1-5

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [1] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

It’s interesting to note here that in the last verse it says “those whom he called he also justified.” I’ve read a lot on this and tend to agree with Dr. John Piper when he talks about this verse. He basically says that all who are called are justified so not everyone can be called since, obviously, all people are not justified. Source.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us [1] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known [2] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee [3] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [4] to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:3-14

I think those verses are pretty straight forward.

Other verses in this topic include Acts 13:48 and Romans 9:6-25.

The unconditional part of “unconditional election” is pretty straight forward. It means that man does not have to meet any certain criteria for God to choose to save him. The “unconditional” part really ties in to the “total depravity” part. As we work our way through T.U.L.I.P you will see that each piece works with the other pieces.
 
It’s important to note that unconditional election is not the same as unconditional salvation. Salvation may only be granted by a saving faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross. However, faith is not a prerequisite for election instead it’s the other way around, election is a prerequisite for faith.

I think that about sums it up for the “U” of T.U.L.I.P. Next will be the “L” for limited atonement.

There are many, many theologians who have said this much better than I. Here are some links to additional reading on the doctrine of unconditional election:

Be Blessed,