Theology study

Published on November 30th, 2012 | by Aaron Everingham

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A Tale of Two Calvinists – Part II

I attempted, in Part I of this article, to put some flesh on the bones of the idea of “embracing the doctrines of grace”, or “becoming a Calvinist.” While I avoided delving into the Biblical and theological fount of these doctrines, and I scarcely touched on them historically, I hope that what I did achieve was to begin to depict my encounter with such doctrines, and their subsequent effect on my faith. I also hoped to undergird the truth that, as mere labels, they positively distinguish the true gospel from “sub-Biblical, synergistic versions” of the gospel which are especially prevalent today.

I could make the point by saying, I’m a Biblicist, therefore, I’m a Calvinist. I hold these precious truths of God’s sovereign grace as a matter of conscience, and indelible, Scriptural conviction. To restate the experience just as emphatically as in Part I, yet more narrowly, a fundamental understanding of true grace was absolutely necessary to my spiritual health and religious affections. It continues to be necessary to my growth in grace and truth, and therefore my approach to worship. And it is an understanding which, through Christ’s mediation and the work of the Holy Spirit our lives, we have reaffirmed every Sabbath at the levels of both the mind (through our senses), and the heart. Our omniscient and benevolent Father knows the “weakness of our faith”. Therefore, every Sabbath…

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul…”

and He

“[prepares] a table before me…”

We who are in Christ receive, by grace, these most sublime benefits: imputed righteousness, mediation, union, adoption, sanctification, intimacy with God, the means of grace, and the list could go on… As my wife and I began to learn this, it was spiritual nourishment like we had never experienced. It was freedom renewed, and confidence rooted firmly in God’s unbreakable and eternal covenant. It clarified things in the Scriptures that once confused us. It was a gut-level rebuke of our legalism and list-keeping and toxic self-righteousness. With eyes of faith we began to see that both our justification and sanctification, signified through baptism and declared in the Holy Supper and the preaching of the gospel, flow from our union in Christ. They are truly and completely by grace, with no square inch to claim as our own. We are eclipsed by the luminescent tsunami that is God’s love. And that is true liberty.

I believe that what the Scriptures teach regarding God and His creation, regarding Christ and His kingdom, and the eschatological center of the whole, can be loosely summarized as “Reformed theology.” I come to the Reformed tradition with much ignorance, naivete, and spiritual immaturity. But I come with “fresh eyes” – the eyes of the newly converted; as one only 5 years into his Christian pilgrimage who has, by grace, drawn nearer to the heart of the catholic faith.

My goal is that throughout this short series of articles, I may demonstrate the importance, within the Church, of the mutual nurturing of long-time Calvinists and new Calvinists together, in the spirit of edification and discipleship. I also hope to elevate these truths for the glory of God, and the zeal of His people.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36)

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About the Author

Aaron is a reformed blogger (lumberingbrown.com), a member of Crestwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Edmonton, Alberta and husband to his bride, Brittany.



5 Responses to A Tale of Two Calvinists – Part II

  1. charles says:

    “i. All of the elect are regenerated subsequent to believing the gospel. Faith is a condition for regeneration.”

    this isn’t calvinism at all – not even arminian, really. this is saying that for those smart/spiritual enough to believe the gospel (when they are spiritually dead, blind and hard hearted), God will respond by giving them life.

    Logically, this doesn’t work at all unless you believe that men are clean slates and choose based on nothing at all – you might think Obama has been a disaster as president and Romney would be much better…yet you still voted for Obama (against your reason and desires…for no reason at all). Not many people actually live like this (but they love the word “freedom” when it’s used in movies and TV shows.)

    “ii. All of the elect are regenerated simultaneous with believing the gospel. Faith is the means of regeneration.”

    This doesn’t make much logical sense either. How is faith the “means” when it is coincident?

    “iii. All of the elect are regenerated and afterward they ALL believe the gospel. Faith is an effect of regeneration.”

    This is actually “calvinism.”

    When Elisha’s servant saw the army around the city, he was fearful (2Kings6:15) – but when his eyes were opened to the spiritual reality of the situation, his fears were silenced.

    1Cor2:14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    That’s what calvinism simply teaches: “people make choices for a reason.”

    “iv. All of the elect are regenerated and afterward SOME, but not all, of them believe the gospel.”

    Similar problem to “i” above: if God does all He can to save me and my neighbor yet I believe and my neighbor rejects the gospel, who gets the credit if not me personally.

    It is more wise to obey God, right? It is good to obey His command to “repent and believe”? So am I generating that wisdom and goodness myself or did we both merely choose randomly, based on nothing.

    I will stick with the biblical/calvinist teaching: I chose Jesus because I love Him, and I love Him because He first loved me. I needed to make a real choice in space and time, but that was only possible due to His foundational choice as Paul says at the end of 1Corinthians1 – that is the reason that no human being can boast.

  2. Robert Horton says:

    How sad to believe that Christ has died for someone that will go to hell, How sad to believe that the Holy Spirit would regenerate someone dead in trespasses and sins but not have the power to open their hearts and eyes to the gospel. How sad to believe that God would choose someone before the foundation of the world and not be able to make them believe the gospel. How sad to be a #4 calvinist

  3. Mark says:

    Remember, Sunday is not the Sabbath……… JESUS is the Sabbath!!! We rest in him.

    In fact, to take it to another level, I believe the Lord would rather a person spend Sunday fishing, golfing, watching football, if it meant that during the other 6 days, a person worshipped the Lord at their workplace. In other words, the lost do not see us in church, they see us in the same environment they are in (ie at work, Walmart, etc). How is our witness displayed? Do they (lost) see us “resting” in the salvation of our Lord.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying to stop going to church on Sunday. All I’m saying is our Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ.

  4. MRP says:

    There are 4 types of Calvinist: i. All of the elect are regenerated subsequent to believing the gospel. Faith is a condition for regeneration.
    ii. All of the elect are regenerated simultaneous with believing the gospel. Faith is the means of regeneration.
    iii. All of the elect are regenerated and afterward they ALL believe the gospel. Faith is an effect of regeneration.
    iv. All of the elect are regenerated and afterward SOME, but not all, of them believe the gospel.

    Which type are you? There are Baptist that in every category. I am type 4.

    • Len says:

      If this is Calvinism, then Calvin himself wasn’t even a Calvinist! I suggest that you study the subject more.

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