Apr 13, 2007

Understanding Calvinism

In response to this comment (I am commenting on this publicly since it was posted on my blog publicly):

"...But in wanting the truth to be spoken, I will let you know that Calvinism is very Jehovah's Witness. They believe that only 144,000 people will be allowed in to heaven. The elect. Jesus died for all. Not just some. Being a believer and a servant of God should be enough on its own, without being made into an exclusive club that was decided before the world began. If that was the case, God would have never formed the Levities as the missionary priests of the Israelites. He is powerful enough to have his elect taken care of without going out to the world. Missionaries would be worthless, whoever convinced you to understand grace, was not needed. God doesn't need our help. He does it his way, as it pleases him. It pleased him to forgive, love, and give everyone a chance."

1) Calvinism is very JW's

I'm not sure what to even say about this. Every Calvinist belief depends solely on the grace of God, solely on the sovereignty of God, solely on Jesus Christ. JW's, on the other hand, base much of their beliefs on heretical teachings, slandering Jesus Christ's divinity and base their salvation on a gospel of works. They don't believe in hell or even believe in the Christ of scripture. Calvinists and JW's are not alike in any respect.

2) Jesus died for all. Not just some: I think Piper puts it best:

"For whom did Christ die?" But behind the question of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What did Christ actually achieve on the cross for those for whom he died?

If you say that he died for every human being in the same way, then you have to define the nature of the atonement very differently than you would if you believed that Christ only died for those who actually believe. In the first case you would believe that the death of Christ did not actually save anybody; it only made all men savable. It did not actually remove God's punitive wrath from anyone, but instead created a place where people could come and find mercy—IF they could accomplish their own new birth and bring themselves to faith without the irresistible grace of God.

For if Christ died for all men in the same way then he did not purchase regenerating grace for those who are saved. They must regenerate themselves and bring themselves to faith. Then and only then do they become partakers of the benefits of the cross.

In other words if you believe that Christ died for all men in the same way, then the benefits of the cross cannot include the mercy by which we are brought to faith, because then all men would be brought to faith, but they aren't. But if the mercy by which we are brought to faith (irresistible grace) is not part of what Christ purchased on the cross, then we are left to save ourselves from the bondage of sin, the hardness of heart, the blindness of corruption, and the wrath of God.

Therefore it becomes evident that it is not the Calvinist who limits the atonement. It is the Arminian, because he denies that the atoning death of Christ accomplishes what we most desperately need—namely, salvation from the condition of deadness and hardness and blindness under the wrath of God. The Arminian limits the nature and value and effectiveness of the atonement so that he can say that it was accomplished even for those who die in unbelief and are condemned. In order to say that Christ died for all men in the same way, the Arminian must limit the atonement to a powerless opportunity for men to save themselves from their terrible plight of depravity.

On the other hand we do not limit the power and effectiveness of the atonement. We simply say that in the cross God had in view the actual redemption of his children. And we affirm that when Christ died for these, he did not just create the opportunity for them to save themselves, but really purchased for them all that was necessary to get them saved, including the grace of regeneration and the gift of faith.

We do not deny that all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense. 1 Timothy
4:10 says that Christ is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." What we deny is that all men are intended as the beneficiaries of the death of Christ in the same way. All of God's mercy toward unbelievers—from the rising sun (Matthew 5:45) to the worldwide preaching of the gospel (John 3:16)—is made possible because of the cross.

This is the implication of Romans
3:25 where the cross is presented as the basis of God's righteousness in passing over sins. Every breath that an unbeliever takes is an act of God's mercy withholding judgment (Romans 2:4). Every time the gospel is preached to unbelievers it is the mercy of God that gives this opportunity for salvation.

Whence does this mercy flow to sinners? How is God just to withhold judgment from sinners who deserve to be immediately cast into hell? The answer is that Christ's death so clearly demonstrates God's just abhorrence of sin that he is free to treat the world with mercy without compromising his righteousness. In this sense Christ is the savior of all men.

But he is especially the Savior of those who believe. He did not die for all men in the same sense. The intention of the death of Christ for the children of God was that it purchase far more than the rising sun and the opportunity to be saved. The death of Christ actually saves from ALL evil those for whom Christ died "especially."

3) Missionaries would be worthless, whoever convinced you to understand grace, was not needed. God doesn't need our help. He does it his way, as it pleases him.

I would like you to find 1 true, converted Calvinist who claims that preaching the Gospel is unnecessary. I highly doubt you'd find one. Faith comes from hearing the Gospel, and we've been commanded to preach it. So we do.

But here we do agree. God doesn't need our help. But He's chosen to make us instruments in spreading the Gospel. And yes, He does it His way, according to His will, according to His pleasure.

4) It pleased him to forgive, love, and give everyone a chance.

It pleases God to forgive us and love us because of His Son. It's not that we have any worth on our own. The only worth we have is in Him, who was crucified for us.

No one deserves a chance. Every single person on this earth deserves to burn in hell for all eternity. It's is amazing grace that the LORD has even saved one, single person. Amazing, amazing grace.


Stan said...

Seems like we are forever fighting ignorance rather than being able to discuss the truth, doesn't it?

(Note: Your change to a new format here has made some of your earlier posts unreadable. Apparently they are white letters on white background. You might want to see if you can fix that.)

ann_in_grace said...

We have all been Arminians at some point of time. and then we surrendered ourselves to God completely. But it takes time for everybody.
What I do not understand, is the ill will of the enemies of Reformed Theology, which makes them build straw men and throw false accusations, in hope that some of them would actually cling to the listener and prevent him from listening to a reformed believer.
Sam, why don't you listen to The Narrow Mind, pastor Gene Cook presents Calvinism in a very approachable way, yet in a manner palatable to an Arminian.

All Arminians should also listen to this podcast.

ann_in_grace said...

BTW: this design is beautiful - the birds are delicious.
Could you please hold to one design for, say, one month at least?


Samantha said...

Yes Stan. It gets really frustrating. I don't care so much if people disagree with me, it's the misunderstanding of what I actually believe that really gets to me. :D

Samantha said...

Ann, exactly. I remember when I first started studying reformed theology, and I was completely confused and upset with what I was reading. But God slowly started chaning my heart and helped me to understand what I know believe is Truth.

Thanks for the sermon. I'll be sure to listen to it.

PS: I think I like this layout. It might just last 5 weeks! :D