“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such……thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon
Why I Am a Calvinist, Part 5
. . . and why every Christian is a Calvinist of sorts.
Part V: Why this issue is really a lot simpler than most people think
At the end of the previous post, I described how even in my Arminian days, I affirmed an awful lot of truth about the sovereignty of God: I would have affirmed with no reservation whatsoever that God is God; that He does all His good pleasure; that no one can make Him do otherwise; that He is in control and in charge no matter how much noise evildoers try to make; and not only is He in charge, He is working all things out for my good and His glory. As a matter of fact, my confidence in the promise of Romans 8:28 was what motivated my prayer life.
That’s Calvinism. If you believe those things, you have affirmed the heart of Calvinism, even if you call yourself an Arminian. Those are the basic truths of Calvinism, and if you already believe those things, you are functioning with Calvinist presuppositions.
In fact, the truths of Calvinism so much permeate the heart of the gospel message, that even if you think you are a committed and consistent proponent of Arminianism, if you truly affirm the gospel you have already conceded the principle points of Calvinism anyway.
Why I Am a Calvinist, Part 1
. . and why every Christian is a Calvinist of sorts.
Part I: Is Arminianism damnable heresy?
I love the doctrines of grace and don’t shy away from the label “Calvinist.” I believe in the sovereignty of God. I’m convinced Scripture teaches that God is completely sovereign not only in salvation (effectually calling and granting faith to those whom He chooses); but also in every detail of the outworking of Providence. “Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). And He makes “all things work together for good to those who love God, [i.e.,] to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Quite simply, He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
That’s what people commonly mean when they speak of “Calvinism.” When I accept that label, I am not pledging allegiance to the man John Calvin. I am not affirming everything he taught, and I’m not condoning everything he did. I’m convinced Calvin was a godly man and one of the finest biblical expositors and theological minds ever, but he wasn’t always right. As a matter of fact, my own convictions are baptistic, so I am by no means one of Calvin’s devoted followers. In other words, when I accept the label “Calvinist,” it’s only for convenience’s sake. I’m not saying “I am of Calvin” in the Corinthian sense.
by R.C. Sproul
Shortly after the Reformation began, in the first few years after Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, he issued some short booklets on a variety of subjects. One of the most provocative was titled The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In this book Luther was looking back to that period of Old Testament history when Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading armies of Babylon and the elite of the people were carried off into captivity. Luther in the sixteenth century took the image of the historic Babylonian captivity and reapplied it to his era and talked about the new Babylonian captivity of the Church. He was speaking of Rome as the modern Babylon that held the Gospel hostage with its rejection of the biblical understanding of justification. You can understand how fierce the controversy was, how polemical this title would be in that period by saying that the Church had not simply erred or strayed, but had fallen — that it’s actually now Babylonian; it is now in pagan captivity.
The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call
We have a wonderful subject to talk about tonight and I took up a little more time than I ought to have, in one sense, but wanted to share with you what I did, so we’re going to try to squeeze it in the time we have. I want you to open your Bible to Romans 8…Romans chapter 8 and let’s begin in Romans 8 with some very familiar revelation from God.
Verse 28 which is familiar to all of us is a good starting point. Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, for whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren, and whom He predestined these He also called and whom He called these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 2
Those of you who have been with us know we are tackling some of the more challenging and profound and difficult doctrines in the Scripture. And I trust we’re having a wonderful time digging deeply into God’s precious truth.
Last Sunday night we began to look at the subject, “For whom did Christ die?” Or, “The Nature of the Atonement.” Or as I chose to call it, “The Doctrine of Actual Atonement.” And I want to go back to that. If you weren’t here last week, it really would be helpful for you to get the tape or the CD, whatever is best for you, and to listen to what I said and pair it up with what we’re going to say tonight because you’re going to get just a very abbreviated review of that important foundation.
The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 1
Well, how many of you have always wanted to go to seminary? You’re about to go tonight. I’m going to challenge your thinking a little bit as we talk about this issue of the question, “For whom did Christ die?” We have been looking over the last number of weeks at some very important doctrines, the doctrine of perseverance, or the preservation of the saints; the doctrine of sovereign election in salvation. We have looked at the doctrine of total or absolute inability, that is the depravity of the sinner which renders it impossible for him to respond to the gospel. And tonight I want to talk to you about what I’ve chosen to call, trying to give it a more accurate name, the doctrine of actual atonement…the doctrine of actual atonement.
The Doctrine of Absolute Inability
We have embarked upon a wonderful study of some very important doctrines on these Sunday nights. And from my viewpoint, it’s kind of open ended, I’m just kind of following the flow and seeing where it goes. But I’m having a wonderful time. As you well know through all these years, we predominantly, if not almost always, work through texts of Scripture and that way we are obligated to affirm what the Word of God says because it’s what it says. And there is always the, I suppose, potential accusation that when you leave the flow of expositional preaching and you embark upon a topical study or a doctrinal study, you ….you may be caught up in something philosophical, you may be caught up in something rational, something logical and you may be drawing conclusions that wouldn’t stand the test of Scripture. And so I want to affirm to you that everything I say I trust will be before your very eyes drawn out of Scripture, and I would encourage you, like the noble Bereans, to do a little work yourself and search the Scripture and see if these things are so. I certainly don’t want to bring to you a rational theology, although it’s not irrational. I don’t want to bring to you a philosophical approach to theology. I don’t want to follow the path of human reason to conclude the things we conclude. I want to bring you what the Word of God has to say and the Word of God does speak to these very, very important doctrinal issues.
The Doctrine of Election, Part 3
We have over the last couple of Sunday-evening messages been talking about the issue of divine election. Who chose whom? And I understand that this is not a small controversy when you talk about the doctrine of election. There are many people who feel, as I noted in our original message, that this is a dangerous doctrine, that this turns God into a monster, that this is an almost blasphemous, that this is a kind of heresy. And yet no matter how much human reason, human preference might rage against this doctrine, it is inescapably taught in Scripture. And we need to bow our knees to this great truth of divine election, and once we do it may become to us the most precious of all doctrines.