Theological Differences

It seems to me that the divide that Calvinist and Arminians have in their theology is one of emphasis. The divide is centered around the question of free will, or man’s ability to choose to become a Christian or not. In the Calvinist system, we believe that man cannot choose to come to God until the Holy Spirit has moved in his heart, enlivened the spirit in man, working faith in him, and at that point, the man believes in Christ for salvation.

All the work, in the Calvinist system of justification, is done by the Holy Spirit. The man is awakened spiritually and responds to the call of the gospel. The illustration that Jesus gives is that the man or woman is finally born again. Just as a child is born because of nothing in and of himself, so too are we born again because of nothing in and of ourselves. The act of being justified is one purely of grace, and not man’s ability to believe or not, since we would we are spiritually dead before conversion.

The Arminian, of course, opposes this view. They would say that man does have free will and can choose to do so. Since he can choose, then it is man’s responsibility to believe. In their system, they believe that God has made the way of salvation possible, and it’s up to us to believe and be saved. This means that God’s election of men before the foundation of the world, is based upon man’s will and decisions, and not God’s will.

They also accuse those of us who are Calvinist as making God out to be mean because He chooses some and does not choose others. The problem I have with their position is that they have yet explain to me the discussion of this very thing found in Romans 9. There, Paul makes the case that God chooses whom He chooses to show mercy upon. In that section of Scripture Paul makes it clear that man’s will is not a factor in being chosen, but the decision is based upon God alone. John 1:12-13 also make this clear, that God alone is the One who makes the decision, not us.

Now there charge against our position is that this makes God responsible for sin, even though the Scripture clearly says that there is no darkness found in God at all (James 1). We say that man is responsible for his own sin, and this is the only thing that is truly ours, but if you know anything about sin at all, it’s nothing we want anything to do with.

They would also say that God desires all men to come to Himself. And we would agree that on one level, God does disire this, but not when it comes to actuality. God is glorified in those who reject His grace just as much as He is glorified in those who accept. Through the one, His justice is glorified, in the other, His mercy is glorified.

And I believe that is truly the dividing point between the two camps. One camp, Calvinists, address both God’s justice(or Holiness, which is where His justice is derived) and His mercy (which is manifested in His love.) The Arminian camp, I believe, tends to focus only on His love. They cannot accept that fact that God would save some and not others, and therefore they put the full responsibility of salvation back in man’s lap, to the point that if a man rejects the gospel, then it is the man’s responsibility and not God’s. The problem we have with this is that it makes God less than sovereign over all things, and He actually seems more like a dottering old grandfather wishing and hoping that men would trust in Christ and be saved.

We would agree that it is man’s responsibility to trust in Christ and be saved, but not within his ability, and it is only when God moves on behalf of the sinner that the sinner believes in Christ and is saved. Since the man is spiritually dead, he cannot move in this way at all. He needs to be born again, an act that he cannot bring about. To the Calvinist, this truly speaks of God’s grace and magnifies it, for we see the richness of grace all the more in that there is no reason for us to boast if we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-10). To the Calvinist, God is sovereign in all of life, not just a few areas of life, and He rules in every aspect of the universe.

The God of the Arminian however is One that is only partly sovereign, which is an oxymoron, and has merely set salvation up so that it might be possible for all to be saved. To the Calvinist, God has set it up so that His elect will be definitely saved. There are no doubts in their salvation. As Jesus said, nothing can rip them from His hand.

And the logical conclusion to Arminianism is what has become know as the Open Theist movement, in which God really doesn’t know the outcome of tomorrow any more than you are I do. He is merely reacting to events instead of guiding them. I cannot accept this, nor do I want to worship a God that is like this.

I’m grateful that God is sovereign in all aspects of life, not just some. Yes, He grabbed me, and worked faith in me, and I have no reason to boast in my salvation. I am grateful He opened my eyes to my own sinful fallen nature, and showed me that the only way out of salvation was faith in Christ. I’m glad He worked faith in me so that I would believe and would help me in my unbelief. Yes, I am a Calvinist. That is not a boast, for the true Calvinist knows he has nothing to boast of… but God’s saving grace. For the true Calvinist we truly do sing the words Amazing Grace with gusto, for we know that were it not for His grace, we would be rightfully sent to hell, which all men deserve. But by God’s grace, He has saved some, and I am among those.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…

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In My Own Words — Sabbath/Lord’s Day Revisited

For my own sake, and for the sake of others who are willing to listen, I would like to go over the areas of the Sabbath which show that it is a perpetual commandment, for believers of all ages using Timothy D.’s presentation of the topic. I already know that this will not convince the anti-sabbaterians that are among the blogospher. Hopefully it will help those who do accept the doctrine found in Scripture. The purpose is building up the body of Christ, and not for tearing it down. In view of that, if you reject the keeping of the doctrine for Christians today, then I wish you would keep your comments to yourself. If you have questions, I welcome them.

First of all, Timothy D. writes: 1. The Sabbath was Instituted before the Fall. I believe that one of the reasons that there is still a weekly Sabbath is that it was instituted at Creation before the Fall and was not part of the ceremonies introduced in the Mosaic economy; neither was it connected to the sacrifices and other bloody ceremonies introduced between the Fall and Moses. How would something instituted as unconnected to Christ’s death be abrogated by that death?

He gets this from the following verses: Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

This shows us that the Sabbath day was established before sin entered into the world, and therefore, when God gives us this commandment to keep it holy, we do so based upon the fact that it is a reflection of God’s creative work. God, Himself, also rested on that day from His work of creation. This alone should be enough reason to continue observing the Sabbath, but I know those who oppose any level of obedience will reject it outright. After all, many will say that the only Law that we should ever follow is: Love God and Love neighbor. Where they fail is tyring to extrapolate any real meaning to those two commands. They think that by merely stating that and leaving it open to their own interpretation, that they are truly loving God and their neighbors.

When one gives the Greatest Commandment as a rule for living, they must realize that the Greatest Commandment is a summary of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments show us how it is that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, as well as how it is that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

The kicker is that God seems to think it important that we keep the Sabbath/LORD’s day, because He has not abrogated that command. He cannot. For doing so would go against His very nature and character. Since the Law is bound to His nature, we must never think that it changes. The Law doesn’t change because He doesn’t change. The righteous requirements of the Law are still necessary for life. Fortunately, Christ meets those righteous requirements for those who trust in Him. Yet, this does not remove the necessity of keeping the Law, hence, the Fourth Commandment.

Reading Fix

I finished reading Mitchell Fix’s book, Blame it on Adam on Tuesday. Let me just say that this book was as good as, if not better, than any Vince Flynn novel or Clancy novel that I have read. You know that Vince Flynn is my favorite author, and Mitchell’s book was better than anything Flynn has written to date.

What makes it better is that Mitchell writes from a Christian world view. The premise of most novels by Flynn, Clancy and many others, is that man is basically good and we just need to do the right thing. That is not a fundamental view that I believe is true in life. Man is not basically good. Remember that Jesus said that there is no one good except God alone (so take it up with Him if you disagree.) We know that there is goodness in the world, but that is because of God’s hand is moving, not something found in man. We see God’s hand moving in the story of this novel. And the title is based upon this premise that man is fallen, and this is why we see so much wickedness in the world.

BUT, THIS NOVEL IS NOT PREACHY. He is not writing to be preachy at all. The main characters are Christian, and they believe in turning to God in the midst of a the crisis, not to their own abilities. They do not preach to us, but live the Christian life in front of us. This book is a novel, after all, not a theological tome.

Mitchell does a wonderful job of telling the story of Martin Dorst, a man born with giantism, who is gifted in mathematics and filled with grace. He is a man that has to learn to humbly accept his place because even though he is gifted with a great mind, he is cursed with ugliness. He is ugly, so much so that people remark that he is just basically hard to look at.

And through Martin, God brings into the world twin brothers who are separated at birth: Bach and Miles. One becomes a pilot, the other a CIA agent. Their lives are intertwined, but they never meet, and both work to foil the plot of terrorists.

As we read about both, Mitchell does an excellent job in taking us through emotional roller coaster of terrorists attacking our neighbors, and then returning us to joy-filled moments through the relationships that Bach and Miles develop. Both men have a love of tennis. Both have strong relationships with the Lord, and both find the loves of their lives while seeking to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

For Miles this means learning to be a pilot and becoming one of the best pilots for the fictional airline, New England Airlines. He helps his dad with a homeless shelter and there, develops a great relationship with one of the homeless boys by teaching him the game of tennis. It is also through the shelter that he meets the love of his life, Amelie, a former pro-tennis player, turned social worker.

For Bach, doing his best means working for the CIA. He was nothing more than a grain counter until September 11 when he loses both his adopted parents and almost his own life in the attack. From that point on, he plunges deep into the world of Islamic terrorists, working towards thwarting their plots against the United States.

In the midst of all of it, they seek to lives their lives as Christians are called to live. Both are in the positions to become womanizers, but don’t do so. They treat women with respect and their girlfriends with the dignity that many are unaccustomed to. Because of their attitudes towards other people, we are able to grow fond of both brothers and know that both will do the right thing when the time comes.

The book is a page burner, to use the cliché. I didn’t want to put it down until I finished and it has as many plots twists as a season of 24. Therefore, I recommend that all of you who read this, read the book as well. It is a fun and exciting read.

You can get the book by clicking on the following sites: Amazon or Barnes & Nobles.