Why We Never Outgrow The Gospel: 3 Reasons

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The Fundamentals

Each year during Easter week and Resurrection Sunday, both the world and the Church are on alert as to the implications of this event from a historical standpoint. Yet both sides have glaringly distinct motives behind why they care at all about that time of year. I won’t at this point in time pontificate on the objections offered by critics and opponents of Christianity; suffice is to say that the burden of proof is on them to offer compelling evidence dispelling the claims of Christianity regarding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the Christian, our interest in the Resurrection is one of absolute necessity, since on it hinges the validity of the Gospel we proclaim as the power of God unto Salvation (Rom 1:16). My aim in this blog is to offer a staunch reminder and biblical exhortation to my brothers and sisters in Christ, of the wonders of this Gospel by which we have both been saved, and are being saved at this very moment until the day of Redemption (1 Cor 15:1).

The Gospel is outlined in Scripture as the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:3,4). It is the testimony of what God has done to make a specific people, whom he has chosen by his own decree and purpose, right with himself by no merit of their own but by the merits of Christ alone (Eph 2:1-8). In modern Christendom there is a commonly held belief that the Gospel is the elementary doctrine of Christianity. It is often taught and preached in mainline evangelicalism today, that the Gospel is what gets us into the Kingdom of God, and then we move on to the weightier and more significant teachings of Christianity. I think we would do well to examine this further and see if in fact we are compelled by Scripture to move on from the Gospel.

I desire that all Christians be people of the Book, and seek earnestly in the Bible how they may grow their faith in Christ and pursue personal holiness. I believe firmly, that having a deeply rooted conviction of one’s perpetual need for the Gospel compels us to go back often to the Scriptures, therefore reminding us to look to Christ for all that we need. A view that minimizes the Gospel actually serves in encouraging the exact opposite; it opens the door to pursuing experiences that are subordinate to the Scriptures and in many cases contrary to the commands of Scripture. I hope to offer three clear and objective reasons from Holy Scripture why we never outgrow the Gospel.

3 Reasons We Never Outgrow The Gospel

We Are Called To Make Disciples Through The Gospel

The Gospel was the means God used to make us alive in Christ. As Christians we inherit the calling issued at The Great Commission by Jesus (Matt 28:18-20) to go and make disciples of all nations. As such, the Gospel is the means God uses in our preaching to save the lost since it is the very power of God unto Salvation (Rom. 1:16). If we are to take this command seriously we must certainly be well versed in the Gospel we stand on. Our calling to make disciples is inextricably woven into our common need and dependency upon the Gospel for our own continued growth in Christ as well as those we are discipling. If we seek to make disciples by an means other than the Gospel of Christ, we will certainly find our efforts to be vain and ultimately ineffective. The Gospel saves and the Gospel alone; not the Gospel and some of our works, not the Gospel and some weightier doctrines, no, the Gospel alone is the Power of God unto Salvation! To preach anything less than this glorious Gospel is to cut off the very legs upon which our hope stands. To preach anything more than the Gospel is to render the Gospel powerless and insufficient. Our calling involves making disciples, and doing so is impossible apart from the Gospel of Christ being clearly preached and taught!

We All Stumble In Many Ways, So Daily We Need The Gospel

God demands perfection from those who would draw near to him and be called his own (Matt 5:48). Unfortunately perfection is something we can never attain to on this side of eternity. Nevertheless we must strive toward that end, working diligently by faith not so as to attain righteousness, but because through this Gospel we’ve been offered an alien righteousness. The Gospel is not merely what God has ordained that we be saved through, but it is also the means God has ordained by which we are being saved (emphasis on progressive or gradual sanctification) (1 Cor. 15:2). We must daily recognize our desperate need for the Gospel, and preach it daily to ourselves recognizing that we are not yet perfected, but are being sanctified daily. This in no way undermines our justification; we are fully and instantly justified upon regeneration, however, we need daily reminded that our works are filthy rags before God and add nothing to our right standing with God. We need only rest in the finished work of Christ to have our hearts encouraged and our consciences cleared before God. A believer who views the Gospel as inapplicable to their daily walk with Christ, will naturally migrate into a form of legalism. They will tend to relate to God based on a system of works, where each sin they find in their life will need to be outweighed with self condemnation and excessive “good works” so as to tilt the scale back toward “favor with God.” This is far too common among believers and it is not glorifying to God or beneficial to the individual. Yet this is the natural pull of the person who sees the Gospel as an elementary tool only necessary for new believers. Nothing could be further from the truth; we all stumble in many ways, and as such we need the Gospel daily to direct our attention to Christ and remember His righteousness which has been imputed to us by which we stand fully justified before God (2 Cor 5:11-21).

The Gospel Is a Mystery That We Can Never Exhaust

The meditation and singular focus of heaven is “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12). Within those words is the essence of this Gospel which I submit to you, we must never outgrow. The gospel is not as many may suspect, an elementary principle, rather it is the culmination of the manifold wisdom of God! We can never exhaust the wonders of this message in which we see the mercy, love, grace, and justice of God all fully displayed and upheld. The mystery of this gospel is one into which even angels long to look (1Peter 1:12). There was never a secondary plan of redemption in the heart and mind of God, for Christ indeed is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). It is a shallow and presumptuous person who would assert that they have come to master and move on from the basics of the Gospel. Such a person does not know full-well the depths of their own sin and the fierce holiness and perfection of God. The gospel being the Good News, is only good when the individual understands the just and eternal judgement they rightly deserve. It will require all of eternity for us to explore in full depth and pure bliss, how it is that a people who by no merits of their own, have come to not only be reconciled to God, but to join him in reigning as co-heirs (Rom 8:17)! That the gospel is inexhaustible comes as no surprise to the soul saved by grace, because through it we come to know Him who is inexhaustible, namely Christ Jesus our LORD! As John Piper has so succinctly stated “God is the Gospel.”

Song for Reflection

Book Review: Defining Deception

Defining DeceptionWhen It Hits Close To Home

It has been 12 years since I came, by God’s sovereign and electing grace, to a saving faith in Christ Jesus. For 11 of these past 12 years I was a member and served in different leadership roles at a local charismatic church. I thank God for His providence in every season of my life, for even when I now reflect on the many ways that I was not helped by my time there; I can also find evidences of God’s grace in granting me true growth and for allowing me to gain true brothers and sisters in the midst of a less than ideal spiritual atmosphere. For anyone who is caught in deception as I once was, there is a real blinding affect that one is overcome with, whereby they are unable to see that they are in fact deceived. This happens very subtly and happens far more easily than most realize. How so, you ask? Deception is illusive in its nature, because it resembles and masquerades in elements of truth just enough to come across as an authentic embodiment of truth, but is actually nothing more than a straw man. What contributes to this widespread deception in churches is an overwhelmingly prevalent biblical illiteracy. Congregants in these churches where deception is rampant are usually unskilled in handling God’s word. This is owing in large part to not being properly taught how to read and study the Scriptures, and in part because there is a strong lack of desire and priority amongst the members to know and understand the Scriptures with accuracy for themselves. I was amongst that crowd for years and reveled in my Biblical illiteracy and mystical experiences, in fact I made many excuses for them. It was only by God’s grace through much wrestling with Scripture and humbling myself, that I came to realize that my faith though wide, in terms of what I was willing to believe and embrace as being of The Lord, was profoundly shallow and had very little if any rooting in Biblical Orthodoxy. I bless the LORD that God brought faithful men into my life about 4 years into my walk with Christ to challenge my faith and teach me the Scriptures, subsequently introducing me to Reformed Theology. My heart and prayers go out on behalf of my friends and family, brothers and sisters, and all those who are caught in deception within the mystical-miracle charismatic world. I hold no feelings of offense toward any of them, and the only regrets I own are the missed opportunities to speak out more boldly and consistently against the deception I witnessed. I pray by God’s grace that their hearts would be softened and humbled to see their deception and ultimately find grace to repent and seek to be healed by God’s Word. This is my heart as I write this book review. I understand that no matter how lovingly and genuinely one may say or write something, there will always be those who see it as a condescending assault and elitist attitude. I would aim to disarm my critics from those thoughts by saying, I grieve for and love deeply my brothers and sisters and pray for their true satisfaction in Christ which is rooted in Objective Biblical Truth. I echo the sentiments of the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:1-3.

It has been over a year now since my wife and I decided after much prayer and conversation to leave our previous church and join a local Reformed church where the Scriptures are being exposited faithfully each week. Though few decisions have been harder emotionally, fewer still have been more monumental and impactful to our Faith and walk with Christ. It was in the midst of this life transition into our new Church family, that I came across several interviews online with Costi Hinn and Justin Peters. I had never heard of Costi Hinn, but quickly discovered that he and I shared very similar church life experiences and were in very similar seasons of life simultaneously. If his name sounds familiar to you that is because it is. Costi W. Hinn is the nephew of famed Prosperity preacher and False teacher Benny Hinn. Costi was sovereignly saved out of the Word of Faith and prosperity movement and is now serving alongside Anthony Wood as a Reformed Pastor in Southern California. Watching Hinn’s testimony online and seeing the work Christ had done and was doing in his life, filled me with a true sense of confidence and encouragement knowing that what God was leading my wife and I through was not in isolation, but He was doing the same with other brothers and sisters. I determined quickly that I needed to meet this brother. Conveniently enough we had a vacation planned to Los Angeles in October of 2017. So we set it in our calendar that we would worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Mission Bible Church while we were in California. Though I had no clue whether Costi would be there, I had hope that I’d get to catch Costi and hear more from him and hopefully share my own story with him to offer mutual encouragement as it were.

Well, October came around and we did just that. We showed up early and brought with us a dear brother who is living in California in hopes that he may feel compelled to call that church family his own. Upon arrival a young lady kindly greeted us, so I explained to her that we were traveling from Pennsylvania and wanted to come worship with them since we heard of the grace God showed to Costi by saving him. She seemed astonished that I even knew of Costi, and asked immediately if I wanted to meet him, to which I quickly responded, that would be great! Sure enough she had us wait while she located him, and he came to us with a huge smile and genuine gratitude that we had joined them for worship. It felt like a family reunion after not seeing your loved ones for many years, and we instantly knew that this was indeed our brother in Christ! Pastor Anthony Wood skillfully exposited the scriptures that morning and we were greatly encouraged and edified. After the service we met with Costi again and we spoke of God’s grace in opening our eyes to the Truth of His Word and of their (Hinn’s and Wood’s) upcoming book Defining Deception. Costi introduced us to his wife Christyne and their children, where we were pleased to know that both our wives were pregnant and were only a week apart in their due dates. We also discovered that his wife has family in PA, in fact they knew and had been to Green Dragon which is a popular flea market about 30 min from my house. IT WAS MEANT TO BE! Surprisingly enough, Anthony has roots that trace back to Lancaster PA as well. I really felt at home, and realized how small our world truly is. I know this is not yet a review of the book, but I felt compelled to share this so that you know that I am not speaking of some foreign unbeknownst to God characters who wrote a book. These are dear brothers tending God’s flock and loving Christ’s people! In fact, I have had the privilege of keeping in touch with Costi through email, and he is a genuine brother who is responsive and Gospel centered. He is not into himself, in fact upon finding out that my wife and I discovered that our unborn daughter was diagnosed with a serious heart abnormality, he immediately added us to their prayer wall and has kept in touch and gave me his phone number to keep him updated. That is the heart of a child of God and of a pastor and I’m blessed to call Costi and Anthony my brothers in the LORD! It is with this in heart and mind that I commend this book to you!

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Costi and I at MBC
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Our Family and Costi and Cristyne at MBC

A Few Thoughts On The Book

Defining Deception is a skillfully written narrative on the history, key figures, and fundamental doctrines of the mystical-miracle and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. The book is a quick read for most readers being comprised of only seven key chapters along with some helpful appendices in the back of the book. Costi and Anthony do a masterful job of being accurate, concise, and loving both to their audience and opponents. This is not a book aimed at making well meaning uninformed brothers and sisters look bad. Rather it is a book aimed at protecting the flock by exposing wolves and charlatans who use the church as a means for gaining wealth and exploiting the weak. The book is very intriguing and hard to put down since it is filled with not only skillful refutation, but also personal testimony through-out. Whether you are someone on the fringe of the Charismatic movement seeking answers. Or you know loved ones who are drenched in this movement and need fair warning. Or whether you’re a pastor aiming to understand this movement which is growing exponentially in the church amongst younger and older people who are professing christians. This book is sure to be an invaluable resource in helping people think through the claims made by leaders and proponents of this movement. Defining Deception is very well put together, Costi and Anthony really do a great job providing notable sources to validate their research and really avoid superficiality by addressing relevant issues and exposing the faulty theology that drives the erroneous doctrine in the NAR movement. This book is simple and intriguing enough to win the trust of the layperson, but simultaneously contains academic level facts and research to compel the scholar and deep thinker. The skeptic may well see this as a ploy by Costi in building his name and gaining his own wealth, yet as one who comes from that world I know that to be false. In fact he himself asserts in the book, that if it were about the fame and money, he would have done far better for himself in the prosperity gospel world, and that is a fact! I shared my experience with Costi and Anthony above for the purpose of setting at ease the skepticism of some by ensuring that I can testify personally that these men are lovers of Christ and care deeply for the Church, which is Christ’s Bride! Anyone who reads this book with a desire to learn and truly weigh the evidence presented against the Truth of Scripture, will quickly see that these are genuine men who love God and through the words in this book are caring for their souls. Without going into great detail for the sake of not presenting spoilers, I end this review by saying: GO BUY THE BOOK! More than that, do as I did, and buy several copies and pray about who the LORD would have you give a copy to, you’ll be glad you did. May the grace and peace of our LORD Jesus Christ be multiplied to you dear brothers and sisters!

Song For Reflection

Calvinism Is For You!

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“God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.”
-John Calvin

I Found What I Wasn’t Seeking

The year was sometime between 2008 and 2009 if I’m not mistaken. It was around that time that I inadvertently stumbled upon Reformed Theology, or as I’ll refer to it for the remainder of this blog: Calvinism. I had only been “saved” or “born-again” for roughly 2 years at this point, and I was attending a vibrant and “cutting edge” Charismatic/Word-of-faith church in the city. It was about 7 min (walking distance) from my house. I was a young and zealous new convert, and wanted eagerly to put down my roots and grow in my faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. I quickly got involved with the Church’s youth group and met several leaders who I immediately grew to love and admire. These particular leaders had a way about their faith that was substantive. The version of Christianity that they taught in our youth group was dense and robust, it was able to withstand criticism and provoked one to examine the Scriptures. It challenged us to not settle for a surface Christianity that only addressed one’s emotions or outward behaviors. Honestly, I didn’t understand a lot of what I was being taught in youth group, mainly because it was foreign to what was being “taught” in the main service of our Church. The messages we heard on any given Sunday were jam packed with charisma and flair, able to rouse even the most mundane of personality types. I seldom left a Sunday service emotionally discouraged, yet could rarely find the substance in the messages to defeat my sin throughout the week. I knew something was fundamentally different between the version of Christianity I would get on Sundays, and the version of it I would get at youth group. Still I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it could be.

After about a year of seeing these two contrasting paradigms at work within the same church, I noticed that one of the youth leaders I had come to love and admire was no longer attending our Church. I looked intently for him week after week to no avail. Eventually, I decided to make a trip to his house to inquire for myself why he wasn’t there anymore. We spoke for some time as he expressed to me that they could no longer attend the church with a clear conscience, seeing that they had stark theological disagreement with the leadership of the Church. It was December and only a couple weeks away from Christmas, and much to my surprise, as I was leaving he tells me he actually had a gift for me. He runs upstairs and comes down almost immediately and hands me a copy of John Piper’s book “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.” My life would never be the same after that! I thanked him and went home, I devoured that book, I couldn’t get it out of my hands. It was as if everything I had experienced and learned in youth group started to make perfect sense. The reason that I loved my youth pastor’s version of Christianity, is because it was True Christianity. As Piper masterfully laid out in that great book I was being groomed to see and savor Jesus Christ, and anything less than that would not do it for me! This unmistakably became my inception to Calvinism. I started with John Piper through sermons and books. I watched Youtube videos of Piper’s, which led me to other Calvinists as well. Before long I was all in with pastors like Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, Paul Washer, R.C. Sproul, Steven Lawson, James White, C.J. Mahaney, James Boice, and so many others. I managed by the grace of God, to stumble upon and find that which I wasn’t even seeking!

What is Calvinism?

My introduction to Calvinistic Theology was, well, abrupt and dramatic. It was this way in large part because my church at that time, was outspokenly opposed to it. I would hear things from the pulpit like, “doctrine divides,” “theology puffs-up,” “don’t be a pharisee.” Sure I have little doubt that my leaders meant well with these statements and truly felt they were protecting their flock by giving these “warnings.” Yet, the irony in each of those statements, is that each one is a doctrinal and theological statement so it was counter-productive to make them. Needless to say, I quickly realized through my interactions with my leaders and peers that I had to be careful about how I communicated the Reformed Faith I now held firm to and believed. The Podcast app on my phone became my new sermon source, and functionally my pastors became men I admired but only knew from a distance. Though not ideal or recommended, for that season of my life I would have it no other way. Better to receive robust Biblical Truth from afar, than to be spoon fed erroneous doctrine regardless how sincere the one feeding you may be. So, what is Calvinism? In short and simple terms, Calvinism as I like to call it is merely a nickname for Biblical Christianity. I say this because what Calvinism aims to do, is view the Scriptures of the Holy Bible (66 books) from an objective perspective. Whereby we draw out or Exegete from the Biblical text what is there, rather than impose upon or Eisegete the text to fit our biases and pre-conceived notions. Calvinism or Augustinianism, naturally derives its name from the historical Church leaders, Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 AD-430 AD) and John Calvin of France (1509-1564). Their writings and teachings (along with many others) helped to draw out conclusively what Orthodox Christian Theology is, based solely on Scripture. Most notably, they wrote extensively on the Biblical testimony of the Depravity of man and the Sovereignty of God. Time would fail me to write in great detail of the rich history of The Reformation and the genesis of Calvinism. However, I certainly encourage you to research the history for yourself as it will be greatly beneficial in helping you find confidence in your Faith. I recommend starting with this three part video series on “The History of Calvinism.”

Pertinent to a proper understanding of Calvinism is the realization that John Calvin was not himself the originator of Calvinism. Though undoubtedly his teachings and writings were the premise upon which Calvinistic Theology was formed. However, what came to be understood as The Doctrines of Grace, or even more widely known as The TULIP was not Calvin’s doing. So, if “Calvinism” is not John Calvin’s doing, then who’s is it? Well, in 1618 the Dutch Reformed Church convened an international Synod, called The Synod of Dort in order to address “The Arminian Controversy” which had arisen among the followers of Jacobus Arminius and was upsetting and causing no small disturbance in the Reformed Church of Holland. Ironically enough Jacobus or James Arminius was actually an orthodox Reformed Scholar for most of his life. It was not until later in his life and studies that he opposed the Biblical and Reformed notions of man’s depravity and subsequently the bondage of the will of man. Additionally he also opposed the Reformed teaching of God’s sovereign grace in salvation. Arminius though orthodox in the public eye was privately concurring with classic Roman Catholic doctrines especially in his soteriology. He went from being a confessional monergist with an Augustinian view of man’s condition, to a synergist with a semi-pelagian view of man’s condition. Though Arminius himself never came out and said these things in public, he had managed to infiltrate several of his students behind closed doors. Upon Arminius’ death in 1609 his students and followers took it upon themselves to form a remonstrance against The Dutch Reformed Church, which would come to be known as the 5 points of Arminianism. In these Five Points Arminius’ followers laid out a man centered approach to Salvation:

  • 1. election conditioned on foreseen faith
  • 2. universal atonement (that Christ died for all men and for every man, so that He merited reconciliation and forgiveness of sins for all through the death of the cross; yet so that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer)
  • 3. the need for regeneration if man is to be saved (here they seemed to be orthodox enough, but, as it later appeared, this was understood in such a way as seriously to underestimate the depravity of human nature)
  • 4. the resistibility of grace (‘but with respect to the mode of this grace, it is not irresistible’)
  • 5. the uncertainty of the perseverance of believers (in respect of this article the Arminians shortly came openly to deny such final perseverance)

It was after many years of conflict and uproar in the church and government that the Synod of Dort was convened from 1618-19. At this Synod The Arminians or Remonstrants as they were known, were proven to be inconsistent in their reasoning and unable to provide any conclusive biblical backing for their conclusions. Eventually the Synod dismissed the Remonstrants seeing they were making no progress with them, and ultimately Rejected  their 5 points as erroneous and false. This is portrayed in writing within The Canons of Dort. The synod then formed their own 5 points in response to the 5 points of Arminianism rooted in Holy Scripture, that came to be known as the Doctrines of Grace or The Tulip of Calvinism:

  • 1. T- Total Depravity (Man’s complete inability to choose God or Salvation)
  • 2. U- Unconditional Election (God’s Sovereign Choice in salvation based on no act or merit of man)
  • 3. L- Limited Atonement (Jesus’ atoning work applied only to and accomplished only for His Elect)
  • 4. I- Irresistible Grace (God’s effectual calling and regeneration to the soul dead in sin)
  • 5. P- Perseverance/Preservation Of The Saints (God keeping those He saves until they are with Him in glory, or once saved always saved)

This may seem a trivial matter to most in the Church today, since not many care to see the significance of these doctrines in daily thought and practice. So, why does it even matter whether you side with the Arminian view of salvation or the Calvinist view? Maybe you consider yourself to be one of those Christians who doesn’t side with either, you’ve paved a new road as it were (be very careful lest you be found to be lacking true saving faith at all). There is great significance in understanding the truth laid out in the Calvinist view and the error laid out in the Arminian view. These are soteriological doctrines, so to err in this matter could prove fatal. Today most everybody in the Protestant Church whether consciously or subconsciously views the condition of man as well as the role man plays in salvation through either an Arminian or Calvinist view. This is owing to what has been handed down to us throughout the history of the Church since the Synod of Dort. What’s at stake you might ask? Well the glory of God of course! The glory that God says he will share with no-one (Isaiah 48:11). The Calvinist view is the Biblical view, and it is the view that is devastating to human pride. It speaks of man’s complete spiritual deadness and inability to do anything to please God. It empties man of any and all grounds for boasting (Ephesians 2:1-10). Most importantly it shows the infinite and glorious mercy and kindness of God in electing and redeeming a people for Himself by His own sovereign grace and pleasure (Romans 9:19-24).

Rage of the Cage Stage

This is not to say that there are no faults with calvinists or that we’ve perfected our theology. Many a Christian and non believer have inevitably been hurt or offended by a Calvinist who is new to his/her Calvinist theology and is going through what we call “The Cage Stage.” This stage is where a new Calvinist discovers the wonderful depths of the Doctrines of Grace and feels the need to prove to every opponent of Orthodox Reformed Faith that they are wrong and must repent and turn to Calvinism! Cage Stage Calvinists experience a wide spectrum of emotion, since they now question everything about their previous life in Christendom. They wonder if they were lied to their whole Christian life, and whether they were really even saved. It is quite a dilemma that one finds them-self in. Naturally but not justifiably so, they lash out on others and feel the need to prove any and every opponent wrong even to the point of humiliating them. This is a terrible thing, and I’ve certainly been guilty of it. How long does this stage last for new calvinists? It is hard to say since it varies greatly based on the individual and their support system, but it is a real problem for the Calvinist and others. If you are reading this and have your walls up in defense or feel a real and insidious distaste with Calvinism, the chances are you’ve encountered several Cage Stage Calvinists along your journey. I want to apologize on their behalf and assure you that this is not the best, by any stretch of the imagination, that Calvinism has to offer. I implore you to reconsider whether you could benefit from what the Scriptures teach through the Calvinist lens. The Doctrines of Grace are merely the tip of the Ice-berg, there is so much more to Calvinism since there is so much more to our Christian Faith. I feel the need to also correct a misconception amongst the opponents of Calvinism which assumes that Calvinists don’t feel the need to evangelize or do missions work, or even speak to others about our faith due to our view of God’s sovereign election. This is a false and erroneous position that is seen as Hyper Calvinism and any sound and orthodox Calvinist rejects this position. I stand firm in the belief that Calvinism is for every Christian who wishes to be Biblical and see their Christianity objectively, as God through Holy Scripture would have them. Do you want to be Biblical? Do you desire to see God for who He truly is as He has revealed Himself in Scripture? Then you would do yourself a great benefit to be a Calvinist. This is not a call to perfection, rather a call to Orthodox Christianity. This is not a plea to be saved, rather a plea to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). I love deeply those from my previous Church, even though I disagree strongly with their theological conclusions. This is not a call to hate your opponents rather to pray for them, and to understand that God is the one who works in the hearts and minds of His children. Whether you are a Calvinist or not, examine the facts and search the Scriptures and by the Grace of God you too will see that Calvinism is for you!

Steps For Application

With all the talk of doctrine and theology this may seem like pure mental ascent, however I would seek to help you apply what you’ve read. Consider the following:

  1. If you’re not a Calvinist especially, read Romans 9 and examine whether you find that you are the one arguing with Paul. (We often implicitly assume that God would be wrong to withhold mercy from whom he pleases. If you find yourself defensive with Romans 9 that’s an indicator your view of man is much more favorable then it should be)
  2. If you’re a Calvinist call an Arminian you know and invite them to coffee and ask them to share their testimony with you. (This is not a matter of saving them, rather it will encourage you to remember the grace you yourself have received, and will serve to help you gain rapport with them in matters of Faith. It will also help dispel the myth that Calvinists are cold and arrogant)
  3. If you’re an incognito Calvinist in an Arminian Congregation, set up a meeting with your elders and share your theological convictions from Scripture and ask them if that is a problem with them. (You may be feeling the need to leave your church, but you may find after a real and thoughtful conversation that it’s possible to have effective fellowship right there. If nothing else you’ll see it is not possible and may feel affirmed in your decision to leave. Don’t ever leave abruptly and with hard feelings so long as it depends on you)
  4. Read an intriguing and accurate biography of John Calvin. I recommend this one. (Biographies do wonders in helping us look down the corridors of history to admire the strengths as well as the weaknesses of some our heroes. Both Calvinists and Arminians would do well to read about Calvin and examine his life)
  5. Associate with others who think and believe different than yourself. (Don’t feel threatened since we have the Word of God as our final authority. Yet be willing to repent and change where you find your views are in contradiction to Scripture as pointed out from your peers, remember context, context, context.)

This argument between Calvinists and Arminians is well over 400 years old, and will not be resolved on this side of eternity so long as sin and human pride is in the picture. These steps are by no means the solution to your differences, but if applied biblically and humbly can help you gain steady traction in seeing for yourself and helping others see the Scriptures as God intends. Grace and peace to you!

Song For Reflection