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…”
“[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.