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October 22, 2009

CharlesSpurgeon01_300x300Most people who know my beliefs would call me a Calvinist or that I have “Calvinist leanings.”  This is partially true, but I disdain the label because it was not Calvin who first recognized the truth of God’s elective process.  It is better to take the stand that Charles Haddon Spurgeon took on the issue:

“There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views.”

It is a shame that Calvinists are now being ridiculed, even as heretics, by those who exalt the “free will” of men.  When Arminianism became the doctrine of the emerging evangelical church, it seems an entirely new way to interpret “grace” also emerged.  But  When we go too far one way or the other and divide over non-essential doctrine, we need to find our way back to the road of grace.  I wasn’t saved as an Arminian or Calvinist.  I understood the truth of God’s sovereignty through many prayerful hours of seeking His truth through scripture.  In the simplest of terms, God showed mercy to those whom He chose – even those whom He created for His glory.  While in my spiritual infancy, I went no farther than my own choice because it was all I knew outwardly.  I had no knowledge of what was actually happening inwardly until God opened up the scriptures to see –  Halleluiah, it was HIM – not ME.

I believe one comes naturally to the conclusions of Calvin on the matters of grace when they prayerfully apply themselves to the scriptures, but this knowledge comes as we travel through the sanctification process.   I know I was saved while still in spiritual infancy, and I am confident that I’m in the faith now.  I also know that there are many fine “Arminian leaning” brothers and sisters in Christ who will be sharing the Lord’s table with me in eternity. 

I used to know no other way but man-centered, free-will doctrine, until a Christian professor challenged me to look at scripture for myself and prove him wrong.  For a year I struggled  but finally had to concede defeat. The scriptural study I undertook to discredit Calvinism became the reason I turned in my Arminian badge of honor.  I saw. God chose His own.   He chose Paul from the womb.   He chose His elect from the “foundation of the world” and He chose us, we didn’t choose Him.   Scripture all pointed to election and appointment to eternal life because God chose. I had never seen it before, but now, God’s Sovereignty and grace overwhelmed me. The whole of Romans eight and nine brought my will (lowercase w) into subordination to God’s great Will. Now, even today, after having studied the matter in-depth for years, I still run across evidence of salvific election that I have overlooked:

“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:22-24 NASB)

This is clearly stating that there are three groups of people – two that are lost and one, made up of both, that is saved – one new man, called out, or appointed, from among the lost.


κλητός  klētos klay-tos’

From the same as G2821; invited, that is, appointed, or (specifically) a saint: – called.

I won’t go into the entire range of fiery darts that come the way of Calvinists, but I will touch on one of them.

Calvinists and Arminians both have difficulty with the doctrine of  “Limited Atonement” or reprobation.  In other words, “How can a loving God appoint only some to eternal life, but others to hell?”     

If we, as mankind, fell from His grace in the Garden of Eden and the world thereafter was filled with sin, then man had condemned himself by breaking the laws of God. All mankind would then be headed for the fire. Sin prevailed on the earth to the point that God destroyed all but one family that He chose for Himself.  Scripture teaches that God has chosen His elect out of the world by His grace because of His great mercy.  That’s enough for me.  

George Whitefield, in a letter of rebuke to his friend Charles Wesley, explains it eloquently:

“But passing by this, as also your equivocal definition of the word grace, and your false definition of the word free, and that I may be as short as possible, I frankly acknowledge: I believe the doctrine of reprobation, in this view, that God intends to give saving grace, through Jesus Christ, only to a certain number, and that the rest of mankind, after the fall of Adam, being justly left of God to continue in sin, will at last suffer that eternal death which is its proper wages.” George Whitefield to Charles Wesley regarding Wesley’s sermon, Free Grace (Dec. 24, 1740).

In the final analysis, God’s mercy and grace saved all whom He has appointed to eternal life and in the final analysis, that’s all we need to know.  Thank you Jesus.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. debra wolter permalink
    October 28, 2009 1:37 am

    thank you for the time and wisdom you have put into this site.It has given me some amazing reading and starting points for my own study.thanks again.

    • October 28, 2009 2:57 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Debra. We are all unfinished works of progress, but my study time on this subject became an amazing journey for me. I believe both sides of the issue have strong believers, but there really is a difference in how each perceive God.

      God bless you on your continued journey.

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