“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1
I can’t tell you how many times it has bees suggested to me that because I believe in the sovereign LORD, Who controls all things down to the smallest detail, that I should cease prayer. Yet, some of those people who tell me that, are the ones who would use the very verse to encourage prayer for the President of America, or some other political issue which they are concerned about.
I believe it was J. I. Packer that said something to the effect of every Christian is a Calvinist on his/her knees. It is precisely the sovereignty of God that drives us to prayer and gives us the assurance that He can accomplish what we ask. If God did not have control of the the hearts of kings, then why ask God to change the direction a ruler is headed, to cause him to veto a bill, or alter his allocation of troops? If God doesn’t hold sovereign sway over the hearts of men then why ask God to save the lost? Why ask God to bring a straying child back? If words mean anything at all, at the heart of the one asking these things is the belief that it is really God who does these things. They may claim free-will as a God frustrating factor, but when they go to seek God’s face they leave their man made notions of freedom behind. If they are to pray biblically, then they must do so.
The believers in Acts prayed like this (chapter 4:24-30… note their appeal to God’s creatorship and control over all things, and their plea for the grace to be bold instead of trusting in their own determination to preach the gospel) “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
We serve the Almighty God, and it’s is precisely because He controls all things that we go to Him in assurance that He can do what we ask.
Soli Deo Gloria.
I know posting a link to another page isn’t really considered blogging, but I wish to direct those who read the blog to this article as something to ponder.
I was recently in a discussion concerning Calvinism and one of the parties stated “I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, and the focus should be on pleasing Him, doing His will, and spreading the gospel to others (and I think that’s all that really matters vs. if I’m a Calvinist or not)” So I ask the question – “Does it really matter?” I contend that it does.
The young lady is mistaken in that she thinks one can divorce doctrine from practice. But this is impossible. Scripture is clear that one’s actions are the result of one’s belief (Jesus tells us the root of the tree determines the fruit of the tree.). So does it matter if one is a Calvinist or not? Lets look at what she said matters as a case study (however brief).
A follower of Jesus Christ:
What is it to follow Jesus? Is it just going around and doing good deeds for others? Isn’t that what Jesus did? Surely not every one who does a good deed for another is following Jesus – for we don’t believe Mormon’s are Christians, or doctors who refuse to abort unborn children are Christian by default. To follow Jesus is more than just loving people. It’s being His disciple. His teachings are studied and devoured; then lived out. For one to say they follow Jesus, and then deny the truths He taught is a contradiction.
Now I am not saying that only Calvinists are truly following Jesus. There are many who are “Arminian” just because we all are by nature. But one cannot honestly say he is following Jesus and then flat out deny, or refuse to understand, John 3:1-8, John 6, John 10, (to name a few). To only accept piece-meal the teachings of Jesus that we like and ignore the others or claim finite understanding to avoid being challenged, is not following Jesus, but rather a paper Jesus.
What is pleasing Him? As a Calvinist would say total reliance upon God. Seeing that all things come from Him, He controls all things. Recognizing and worshiping Him as Who He is – the Only Wise Sovereign. Whether that be evangelism, suffering, or playing baseball with one’s son; all these things are results of the cross and we do them out of love. I am even made pleasing to God through the cross of Christ. It is His death and resurrection that justifies me and why I am no longer under the law, but keep it joyfully. Pleasing Him is not something I do for Him of my own libertarian free-will, but something He does through me by grace. It is living with God in His rightful place as Sovereign Lord and man in his as creature.
Spreading the gospel:
This is vital. For the non-Calvinist the gospel is a chair without legs. They offer the lost a cross that is not sufficient to save, a Savior that couldn’t complete the job, and a God Who is hoping to get them to heaven but can’t apart from the sinner’s letting God save them. It is not the biblical gospel, and the only thing it has in common with the true gospel is the same commonality that a cult has with truth – lingo. The non-Calvinist uses the same terminology but redefines it. Atonement doesn’t mean atonement, ransom doesn’t mean ransom, redeem doesn’t mean redeem, desperately wicked doesn’t mean such, grace alone really isn’t alone, etc. The main thing is for them to keep man understanding that his eternal destiny rests in his hands and that what he chooses to do will be the final determining factor in his salvation. The crown of salvation is laid at the feet of the sinner instead of the feet of the Savior. The very purpose of the gospel to the non-Calvinist is the betterment of man. It’s even used to convince man that they are extremely valuable, thus diminishing their heinous sin.
I know it is brief, but I’m on lunch and wanted to jot a few thoughts down. So in review…. If I must jettison, or twist, some of the teachings of Jesus in order to deny Calvinism then I can’t be a follower of Jesus. If I think that my pleasing God is done in my strength instead of depending on God’s sustaining and empowering grace to live my life for Him – even realizing this desire to do so is a gift from God – if I’m not believing that He is really God as He presents Himself in Scripture, then I’m not pleasing Him. If I must distort the gospel in order to give it in a way that, although massively misaligned to the biblical gospel, does fit nicely with how I think God should operate -if I offer people good news that teaches Jesus almost saved you, but you’ve got to meet Him partway – then I’m not really giving the gospel.
So does it really matter?
“Let us consider the following analogy to illustrate synergism. Developers purchase some undeveloped land to create a new housing subdivision. They hire contractors to build houses on the land. The contractors hire electricians to wire each house for electricity. The power company is hired to bring electric power to the subdivision and hook each house up to the power. The houses are sold and occupied. If one drove through the subdivision at 11:30 p.m., and noticed that the lights were on in some houses but not others, who would they consider responsible for that fact? Since every house was equally wired with power and occupied by a person capable of turning on a switch, the only reason the lights would be on in some houses but not others is that in some cases the occupants turned them on. The occupants are the responsible parties.
We could imagine many other analogies for synergism, but they all lead to the same conclusion. Whether it’s called the “prevenient inspiration of the Holy Spirit” as it is in Trent, or something else, synergists claim that God has already made it possible for every person to be saved. God has done his part, like the power company that wired the houses. Turning on the switch is up to the individual. The person with the lit house may say, “Thank God for the power,” but they were ones who decided to turn it on. If it is on for them while their neighbors sit in the dark, the difference is only attributable to human actions, not to anything the power company did.
Likewise, the synergist must admit that the reason he or she is saved and someone else is not is found only in themselves, not in God. Why? Because in their system, (a cooperative effort between God and man), God ALWAYS continually does His part. Some synergists claim that fairness requires that God MUST do everything He can to save everyone. Since they assume this as an a priori belief, they will not accept any Biblical evidence to the contrary. But a logical corollary to their belief is that if God is indeed always doing everything He can to save everyone, and yet some are saved and some are not, then the reason some are saved has to be found in them, not God.
Synergists may say that salvation is 99 percent from God and 1 percent from man, but the 1 percent part that is man’s doing determines who is saved and who is not 100 percent of the time. Back to the analogy—God wires the entire human race to the Holy Spirit power source and humans either turn on the spiritual light through a free will choice, or they do not. That is the essence of a synergistic system of salvation.” (quoted from Bob Dewaay’s article “Recovering Reformation Theology“)
This is a telling illustration of exactly how most are taught to believe.
Brother/Sister in Christ, why did the light shine in your heart?