Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From the Pastor's Desk: part 6: That's Insanity!

The following quote is from the end of the section in Pastor's Butler's sermon dealing with God's grace and man's free will. It comes fittingly at the end showing a proper application of what he has been talking about. It is also proper to raise this quote here after the last couple of posts for it demonstrates where Calvinism ought to lead.
A college student at Criswell College told me he didn't know if he could avoid hell and go to heaven. I began to explain the good news of the gospel but he interrupted me, "I know all of that. What I don't know is am I among the elect who can be saved."

Folks, that's INSANITY!!!
This is a great example of not studying Calvinism while giving the impression one has done so. I could not agree more with seeing this idea as being insane but not necessarily for the same reasons.

The doctrine of election has been revealed to us in Scripture. This, however, is different from seeking out the secret decrees and purposes of God that He has not revealed. John Calvin makes it very clear in his book that men must not attempt to peer into the secret things of God. This leads to all sorts of dangers, one of which is hyper-Calvinism.
“It is any wonder that such immense splendour should blunt the acuteness of our mind? Our physical eyes are not enough to sustain a contemplation of the sun. Is our spiritual insight greater than our natural powers, or the majesty of God inferior to the glory of the sun? Is it becoming in us, then, not to be too inquisitive....” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.184-185, emphasis mine)
Earlier on page 165, the section on Exposition of Providence Requires Discretion, Calvin argues with those who would dispute with the Providence of God as taught in Scripture. His arguments and warnings are still relevant for all.
For if anyone is accustomed to have honor from his equals, so that he candidly and modestly judges in matters concerning them that are obscure or insufficiently known, sedulously enquires their significance, and prefers to suspend judgment rather than by too much precipitation to do injury, would it not, I ask, be a more than monstrous enormity to less discretion and to measure the works of God by our standards, investigate His hidden councels, and trifle in a profane way with mysteries so great and so profoundly adorable?
Later in the paragraph he concludes,
It is the device of the devil to involve pious and sound doctrine in monstrous fictions, and so not only to snatch from us its enjoyment, but also to render it partly hateful and partly disastrous.
Keep in mind that the hyper-Calvinist is not the only one susceptible to this problem. How many times have we heard men saying they think they married the wrong woman due to a failure in their marriage, or perhaps the choice of a college in which difficulty arises, or a job that leads to the unemployment line? So to fix these things, we try to guess what God's real decree is for us in each situation of life. That is poor theological thinking and an improper method of applying the wisdom God gives to His people through the Scriptures.

To ask the question of whether or not "I am of the elect" is to miss the point of Scripture and the Calvinist understanding of election. Election is taught to the believer for several reasons. First, it reminds the believer of his utter dependence upon God for His salvation. For apart from God choosing the sinner, he would never come to Christ. However, election isn't what saves the sinner. Christ saves the sinner by dying for him on the cross and imputing him His righteous life through the means of faith. Therefore, we are called to look to Christ.

Second, it gives the believer security to look to Christ and know that Christ will not fail him. As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12,
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
It is also an encouragement to the believer in evangelism. We do not have to manipulate men to come to Christ. Instead, we use every means and method prescribed by God and trust God to accomplish all He intends. Therefore, when times seem difficult in the preaching of the Gospel and the calling of sinners to repentance, we need not fear that we have failed. As Paul says elsewhere in 2 Timothy 4,
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
As Richard mentioned in the last post, the doctrine of election is combined with this statement from John 6,
"Him that cometh to me I will an no wise cast out.”
This is an encouragement to sinners to forsake their sin and turn to Christ in faith. He will not turn you away. Every Calvinist readily proclaims with Jesus for all sinners to come. As Jesus said in Matthew 11,
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Dear Sinner, come to Christ and take refuge in Him. He will not fail you.

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