Tuesday, December 01, 2009

From the Pastor's Desk: part 9: Finally, The End

One last post on Pastor Butler's sermon. The last section of his notes state,
Romans 10: 10-15, "For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"

Interesting! If elected, then why the need to believe?

If elected, then why the need to preach?
Although much of this objection has been dealt with, one other aspect needs to be noted. The fact is, the non-Calvinist's (basically Arminian position at this point) position on the providence of God needs to be explained. The fact that God has decreed all things and governs all things does not mean that men are robots. Please note the London Baptist Confession on God's Decree.
1._____ God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. [emphasis mine]
It is precisely because God decrees all things that man's will is "established". If God has not decreed all things, then the only logical viewpoint would be some kind of Fatalism. There is no such thing as autonomous free will.

The section in the LBCF on God's providence is also helpful at this point.
2._____ Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without his providence; yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
And paragraph 3 states,
3._____ God, in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure.
What the non-Calvinist seems to miss is that God not only decrees the ends but the means as well. So when Paul asks in Romans 10 as to how will unbelievers believe if they have not heard? Well, the Calvinist is not saying God will "zap" them. Again, in God's providence, in this case Special Providence for His people, God uses means to accomplish the end.

Therefore, with what was said in a previous post about the secret decrees of God, since men do not know who the elect are by just some special revelation that God has not given, we must do as the Apostle Peter says.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.
We are not to assume our election as many Dispensationalists/Once Saved Always Saved do. Instead we are to do what Reformed theology has long taught. We are to as Paul says elsewhere,
continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
This is not to gain salvation, but because of what Christ has done for us, we may now freely die with Christ.

In conclusion, I am willing to bet that there is much in the Confession that Pastor Butler would agree with at this point. I doubt Pastor Butler is some kind of Deist or Fatalist or Open-Theist. It is my hope that he would be willing to sit down with us and come to an understanding of what Calvinism/Reformed Theology actually teaches as opposed to his caricatures. Perhaps then both of our churches will have true fellowship based upon a mutual understanding of our respective positions, united by Christ's Gospel.

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