We come now to the part of which I am most nervous, pertaining to the topic about which I have rambling on for two previous posts. I hope it has served someone somewhere in someway. If not, it was at least helpful for the writer.
Calvinism: This is the hardest subject to hash out, in that we’re looking at how we ought to build fences around certain areas that we are willing to protect. This is difficult because it is without a doubt the most dangerous and yet the most important. It deals mainly in areas where we ought to be extremely fearful that we handle truth correctly, and yet it is also one of those areas which, humanly speaking, comes down to being life or death for the church. Not life or death for the individual, but when push comes to shove, we cannot afford to look at ourselves outside of the context of Christ’s Church on earth. We not heroic knights seeking whom we may challenge; we’re soldiers in an army. We’re not even to think that we as individuals are Christ’s Bride; we must remember that honor belongs to the Church as a whole. We cannot overemphasize the importance of individual Christianity, because the Church is after all constructed of individuals; but we are all but part of a bigger picture of what God is doing in the midst of a people.
But the church must have a proper eye on the character of God, and His work in salvation; in essence, we ought to prize correct doctrine as highly as we do right practice. It does not matter how our human reasoning sees things as leading to antinomianism or not, (or legalism, for that matter), if it is not the truth about GOD that we teach it will lead to the degradation of the Church.
Obviously, this subject is more vital than a dead man’s name.
There are a lot of false assumptions that arise in person’s mind when such a thing as the Doctrines of Grace are mentioned. They think of Hyper-Calvinism and antinomianism, people who emphasize God’s wrath, sovereignty and justice (all concepts which are not to be seen on surface level in John 3:16) to the degradation of His love and mercy, and various other matters which arise from perhaps genuine concerns. The underlying principle is that when any belief system emphasizes one aspect of the Gospel and ignores the rest, problems will arise. But despite the genuine concerns of the Christian, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that such things as the put forward in the real and full Doctrines of Grace, are indeed repulsive to natural man. We do not like to think that our lives are subject to the degrees of a Good and Just being, who ordained before the foundation of the world who would be rescued from our own, self-begotten, dead state.
It is along such lines that we begin to tread fearful ground. There are things so high that our flesh-stained minds cannot look into them without error; but if we keep an eye on Scripture, we must all operate our investigation into the work of Redemption thus: “Mine it is to wonder adore; never to question.” Romans 9, which speaks more fluently than anywhere else on God’s divine right to do whatsoever He pleases with His Creation, sums up the argument well thus: “Shall the thing formed say unto Him that formed it, ‘Why hast thou made me thus?'”
Everything has to start with a right view of God; following on the heels of this is a right view of man. Once man gets honest, real, in seeking “the Knowledge of the Holy,” his understanding is enlightened about a hundred lesser areas. We will not get honest, I believe, unless we keenly believe our utter helplessness before the Almighty, and our utter pollution by sin. We must lay aside all ideas of helping ourselves.
While particular leeway is allowable, a large number of the mainline objections against Calvinism lead headlong into Open-Theism, whether the perpetrators thereof deny it or not. To solve the problems of why there is sin when God is good, how God could elect and yet not deliberately send men to hell, and how on earth Christ could possibly have born the wrath of God Almighty for men who are now in hell, men have brought forward a God who has absolutely no control, or even knowledge, of what is yet to be.
This seems to solve so many problems (except the purpose of existence), but is anything but a vindication of God. You do not praise the love and goodness of the Almighty God by such views, you rather confound it. What is this, of a God who is good, yet impotent if men do not make “a decision for Christ”? (there is no more humanist phrase in all the church). What is this, that you call God loving, but He is willing to gamble away His own Son’s life, for men that He would later condemn? If He created a Universe that could surprise? If you worshiped and adored a Sovereign, Powerful, Good, Wise, Unchanging, Eternal, Omnipotent God that was so adored by the Puritans, Pious Catholics, Reformers, Loyd-Jones, Tozers, and all in that long train which has continued from Hebrews 11, if you laid hold of the fact that the Son of God must receive the complete reward of His sufferings, surely the idol which is held forth in open-theism is unheard of!
The ultimate end of all being is to bring glory to God. We must be experiential in our evangelism, our Christian walks, and in many of the ways that we look at Theology. We must not say, as is the lie of hyper-calvinism, “God is, let us therefore watch and see what happens”. We must preach, “God is, therefore you must… God is, therefore we owe Him all…” We may examine things in an experiential manner, in order that we may persevere in the Kingdom and the Christian race: but while in behooves us to bring the eternal to bear on our experience, we must never bring our experience to bear of the Eternal. Ours it is to lay ourselves before the Almighty, and to prayer that we would believe all that He has said of Himself, and to respond.
We are saved by Grace; not by our works, lest any man should boast. The righteousness of Christ has been applied to our souls, that we might be blameless before God as we seek to live to His glory; We will not understand Predestination and the Goodness and Love of God throughout all the ages of Eternity. But we can lay hold of the realities that our before us, taking them before the Father, and go our with a sure confidence that the truth will stand.
If the above makes no sense to you, such was the case with the author. These matters still need to be sorted through systematically, so perhaps I will continue to expound on this theme further on.