He raises the dead (Ephesians 2:1–6). We saw before that being a sheep of Jesus means being chosen by God and given to the Son. 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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. The doctrines of grace make evangelism among spiritually dead sinners possible. “Flesh” refers to man in his natural state apart from the work of God’s Spirit. (Jeremiah 32:39–41). God elects this way so that “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue.”, Another Powerful Statement of Unconditionality. Numerous writers, especially those with a more Presbyterian orientation, make that point today because so many people (like me, a Baptist) are called Calvinists while not embracing all aspects of the Reformed tradition. After all, God knows all things possible as well as all things actual. God will keep me. Their faith will prove them to be among the elect. There is no fear of God before their eyes!”. But if God gives him repentance, he cannot resist because the very meaning of the gift of repentance is that God has changed our heart and made it willing to repent. the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18–19). The Requirements for Salvation As Gifts of God, Now consider the way Paul describes repentance as a gift of God. John began his letter the same way he is ending it: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. The effectual call is the miracle of having our blindness removed. So why do so many intelligent and faithful Christian leaders buy into Calvinism? . Where we stand on these things deeply affects our view of God, man, salvation, the atonement, regeneration, assurance, worship, and missions. Middle knowledge (or ‘Molinism’ as it came to be called), was their contribution to a controversy within the Roman Catholic church over grace, free will and predestination. This is worth more than millions of dollars. All of us are saved by irresistible grace — amazing grace! He pleaded with John Wesley not to oppose the doctrines of Calvinism: I cannot bear the thoughts of opposing you: but how can I avoid it, if you go about (as your brother Charles once said) to drive John Calvin out of Bristol. For In that case, the death of Christ did not actually remove the sentence of death and did not actually guarantee new life for anyone. Therefore many outwardly good acts come from hearts without Christ-exalting faith, and therefore, without love, and therefore without conformity to God’s command, and therefore as sinful. The overcoming of our deadness and rebellion against God is not performed decisively by us so that we then qualify for the atonement. Desiring God is a paradigm-shattering work that dramatically alters common perspectives on relating to God. This is the order we follow in the pages ahead. The implication is that God will so work in us that those whom he has chosen for eternal salvation will be enabled by him to persevere in faith to the end and fulfill, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the requirements for a new kind of life. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1962, orig. That happened in our union with Christ on our first act of faith. is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes. An example of such hardness is Esau. They emerged as a response to the Arminians who chose these five points to disagree with. He studied in Geneva under Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza, and became a professor of theology at the University of Leyden in 1603. 3) These truths make me marvel at my own salvation. In other words, he prayed that we would experience what he had just taught. I know Christ is all in all. Thus when he chose to create this one he was choosing to actualize every detailed aspect of it (including all human decisions) as already fully known by him. Second Peter 1:10–11 says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. And I want the same for you. We were totally unable to reform ourselves. If the new covenant is to be more successful than the old covenant, God will have to take out the heart of stone and give his people a heart that loves him. Christians love God. Their function is to validate, and make public, the sovereign work of God giving us new birth and creating the new heart of faith. He can disobey. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. None of these acts of irresistible grace is deserved. Thus John Owen comments, “This then is one main difference of these two covenants — that the Lord did in the old only require the condition; now, in the new, he will also effect it in all the federates, to whom this covenant is extended” [John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, in The Works of John Owen, ed. But the fruit of it in faith and obedience is a fight to the end. It is not our love that causes God to be 100% for us. Because we are preaching in a cemetery. We must keep in mind all that we have seen so far in this article. God allows it, and overcomes it whenever he chooses. In 2 Timothy 2:24–25 he says, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 5) God justifies us completely through the first genuine act of saving faith, but this is the sort of faith that perseveres and bears fruit in the “obedience of faith.”. (Samuel J. He has planned, is performing, and will complete a great salvation for his people and his creation. The atoning work of Christ, they say, sets up this possibility. Whoever believes has been “called” into faith by the sovereign grace of God. By this act, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in Jesus. The truth of total depravity means that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the natural man, and “he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). When Paul says in verse 29, “Those whom he foreknew he also predestined,” he can’t mean (as so many try to make him mean) that God knows in advance who will use their free will to come to faith, so that he can predestine them to sonship because they made that free choice on their own. Nothing but the doctrines of the Reformation can do this. That is surely the case for many Christians in regard to irresistible grace. Let’s call this not the general call but the effectual call of God. Give heed to the beautiful entreaty extended by J. I. Packer, a great contemporary advocate of these truths: To the question: what must I do to be saved? 1, p. 407). There are “children of God” scattered throughout the world. Your son will drive his friends to the ballgame. Satisfaction at the deepest levels breeds a holy longing for the time when we will have the very power of God to love God. . Apart from the grace of God, there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God. It is described again by John in Revelation 5:9 where heaven sings to Christ: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” In accordance with John 10:16, John does not say that the death of Christ ransomed all people but that it ransomed people from all the tribes of the world. If we are to receive mercy, it will be at God’s free choice. He is eternal — and that answers our longing for permanence. Which means he has done it so that he gets the glory in us and we get the joy in him. So natural man has a mindset that does not and cannot submit to God. But the meaning here is, You only, Israel, have I chosen for my own. Then, with the new nature of God, he sees Christ for who he really is, and freely receives Christ for all that he is. I used to say to the church I served, “I love all the women of this church, but I love my wife in a very special way.” I would not want Noël to think that she is loved just because I love all women and she happens to be a woman. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. Nothing can compare with him. In thinking about God’s knowledge theologically it was customary for many years, until and including the Reformation, to distinguish between God’s necessary knowledge and His free knowledge. We have seen before the ironclad chain of divine work in Romans 8:30: “Those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” What is evident from this verse is that those who are effectually called into the hope of salvation will indeed persevere to the end and be glorified. The official Calvinistic response came from the Synod of Dort which was held November 13, 1618, to May 9, 1619, to consider the Five Articles. I sometimes ask people: Why do you believe you will wake up a Christian tomorrow morning? On the one hand it says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). In this way, Human freedom is preserved, for the conditionals on which human freedom depends is still logically prior to His decree. There is no word for “people.” Jesus simply says: “When I am lifted up, I will draw all to myself.” When we see that we have to ask from similar contexts in John what this “all” probably refers to. You may if you please put a young believer to college for years, but unless you shew him this ground-plan of the everlasting covenant, he will make little progress, because his studies do not cohere, he does not see how one truth fits with another, and how all truths must harmonize together. It says that those who were ordained to eternal life (that is, those whom God had elected) believed. The saints are not marked most deeply by what they do but by who they are. 54.]. And it cannot fail. What then shall we say to these things? I love how the ESV reads in Romans 5:15-18:. Piper compellingly reveals why your deepest and most enduring happiness can only be found in God. Evangelism of the humorous type [we might say, church growth of the hip, cool, clever, funny, market-savvy type] may attract multitudes, but it lays the soul in ashes and destroys the very germs of religion. He ordained that David would depart from Keilah upon hearing what Saul would do. Therefore what we mean when we say that faith must persevere to the end is that we must never come to a point of renouncing Christ with such hardness of heart that we can never return, but instead only prove ourselves to have been hypocrites in our professed faith. Category: Articles. If God is for us, who can be against us? . Another way to describe it is “new birth” or being born again. Christ did not die just to make this possible, but to make this happen. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. Or as verse 4 puts it, “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” In other words, God causes the glory — the self-authenticating truth and beauty — of Christ to be seen and savored in our hearts. It is not surprising then, that all true Christians, even before we have been taught these things, know intuitively that grace was decisive in bringing us to Christ. Nor is his honor exalted, even though that’s his will in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). Edwards describes it beautifully when he says, The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope, and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior. Often the heart precedes the head into the truth. We had physical life, but our hearts were like a stone toward God (Ephesians 4:18; Ezekiel 36:26). They hear the warnings and take heed and thus authenticate their humble and good hearts of faith. For example, in John 10:15 Jesus says, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” This is not the same as saying I lay down my life for all people. The fact that such a thing is possible is precisely why the ministry of the gospel in every local church must contain many admonitions to the church members to persevere in faith and not be entangled in those things which could possibly strangle them and result in their condemnation. Paul says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 2) Obedience, evidencing inner renewal from God, is necessary for final salvation. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Molinism harmonizes texts teaching God's providence (such as Acts 4:28 or Ephesians 1:11) with texts emphasizing man's choice (such as Deuteronomy 30:19 or Luke 13:34). (Ezekiel 11:19), I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. What Peter means is: Be zealous to maintain your assurance of them and to confirm them continually by walking in the joy of them. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:10 that in Christ God is “the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” What we deny is that the death of Christ is for all men in the same sense. The doctrines of grace enflamed world missions in the lives of William Carey and David Livingston and Adoniram Judson and Henry Martyn and John Paton and thousands of others. This is exactly what Moses says God will do: The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. The Synod wrote what has come to be known as the Canons of Dort. Tim Keller, a well-known Calvinistic author and pastor, wrote an article at The Gospel Coalition titled, “3 Objections to the Doctrine of Election” that I wish to unpack further today. Your gift enables our worldwide outreach. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, “How came I to pray?” I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. We may praise them as echoes of God’s excellence, but we will weep that they are prostituted for God-ignoring purposes. The biblical answer is not, “I know I will choose to believe tomorrow morning. And what we promise them if they come is that they will be united to him and his bride. Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary Molinism is a system of thought that seeks to reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). “He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). 38–54). Then the frustrations of inadequate love will be over. Grant what thou commandest and command what thou wilt. My experience is that clear knowledge of God from the Bible is the kindling that sustains the fires of affection for God. His preaching was powerful to the winning of souls to Christ. Luke says, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Unless God opens our hearts, we will not hear the truth and beauty of Christ in the message of the gospel. The ostrich “deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers.” Is ours a land where ostriches roam? ), 1 John 2:3–6: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. . I can hardly read the newspaper or a Google news article or look at a TV ad or a billboard without feeling the burden that God is missing. This is a reference to Gentiles whom God will effectively draw to himself when they hear the gospel. He had earlier agreed to do that. But in general I am willing to be called a Calvinist on the five points because this name has been attached to these points for centuries and because I find this Calvinist position to be faithful to Scripture. Or you could say, “I will draw all who are of the truth,” because Jesus says in John 18:37, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Or you could say, “I will draw all who are of God,” because Jesus says in John 8:47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God.” Or you could say, “I will draw all that the Father gives to me,” because John 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.”. . 9:6). Jonathan Edwards, the great New England preacher and theologian, had an equally deep love for these truths. The new birth is blood-bought. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross, and then gives us spiritual life through irresistible grace, and brings us to faith. Rather, fight because he is 100% for us. That is what these truths have proved to be for me. If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God, it is because God has given that person a new, humble nature. They are links in a chain of salvation that cannot be broken. John 11:51–52, “He prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”, 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”, The “whole world” is parallel with “children of God scattered abroad.” So it is natural to think that John’s point in 1 John 2:2 is to stress that God’s propitiating work in Christ is not parochial, as if he is only interested in Jews, or in one class or race. We are therefore in need of a great awakening. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). The term “limited atonement” addresses the question, “For whom did Christ do all this?” “For whom did he die?” “Whose sin did he atone for?” “For whom did he purchase all the benefits of salvation?” But behind these questions of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What is offered is Christ, and anyone — absolutely anyone — who receives Christ receives all that he bought for his sheep, his bride. it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask Him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write His law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from Him. . He is our great Treasure, and nothing can compare with him. But the main objection to using John 12:32 (draw all) to deny that the drawing of John 6:44 (“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”) actually produces the coming, is the way John describes the relationship between God’s drawing and the failure of Judas to follow Jesus to the end. I pray that I am open to changing any of my ideas which can be shown to contradict the truth of Scripture. The following eight theses are my summary of this crucial doctrine. He had not always believed these things. They are not unimportant. He is our great Treasure, and nothing can compare with him. God does not mean for the bride of his Son to only feel loved with general, world-embracing love. In other words the gift of repentance is the overcoming of resistance to repentance. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Paul puts it this way: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). It will be decisively God’s doing, not man’s. Read that carefully: He loves you because he loves you. Believing in Jesus is not the cause of being born again; it is the evidence that we “have been born of God.”. To my great astonishment I found that the passages which speak decidedly for election and persevering grace, were about four times as many as those which speak apparently against these truths; and even those few, shortly after, when I had examined and understood them, served to confirm me in the above doctrines. I do not believe we can preach the gospel . Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to will and to do his good pleasure. “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). But over the years — many years of struggle — I have deepened in my conviction that Calvinistic teachings on the five points are biblical and therefore true, and therefore a precious pathway into deeper experiences of God’s grace.
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