The Love of God

The love of God is so pure, so rich, and so high. It is unmatched. The love for the untouchable, the slave, the sick and hurting is His love. He also loves truth, so much it shows passionately in sharp rebuke to those who are slack with it. Slack not with truth my soul; love and care for the lost and hurting; fervently fend off the wolves in the loving shepherding of His sheep. Grant me love, grace and truth of which You are so very full of. 

A Savior for Sinners

You may have heard someone say, “God helps those who help themselves,” and then thought to yourself how many times you’ve been a helpless failure. Is there any hope for those of us who seem to have a persistent proneness to failure and of weakness? 
Good news, God saves the helpless, the lost, the rebel, the sinner to the uttermost! Christ came to save sinners not the self righteous. Jesus hung out with sinners teaching them His ways while rebuking and condemning the self-righteous Pharisees. 
Beware of the form of legalistic teaching that clothes itself in light while telling you that you must help yourself before God will help you. Who can truly do this who is not blindly self righteous? Only God is truly good and not a single man to ever walk this earth other than Christ is without a sin deserving of death (this is why we all are headed to our graves by the way…”the wages of sin is death.”)
No, it starts with an honest confession of sin and a request for mercy; this is God in His grace lifting the sinner’s soul to see the cross and what the only Son of the Father accomplished at it: complete salvation for all who believe. He came to heal the sick, not the healthy. 
Recognizing ones own sickness is to truly see ones own sin for what it is: cosmic treason against ones own Maker. Yet He is kind to sinners leading them to humble repentance. He grants them new hearts, hearts that actually long for Him and desire to please Him. He faithfully teaches them His ways. He promises them He will never leave or forsake them and that He will finish the work He began in them. He promises resurrection of the body in a world to come that is without sin! Oh the peace in Christ; in Him alone there is rest for the weary and a living hope for all eternity.

Thanksgiving in Canada

I very much enjoyed time away from home this past week to spend with my wife’s family in Canada. It was the same as it is every year; the sound of rushed footsteps sweeping in and out the kitchen, the chatter of several voices chiming in to discuss random topics, children triumphantly pushing the boundaries of every perceivable obstacle they can imagine, abounding laughter over several games of competitive euchre, and the constant temptation of each festive meals’ aroma which are prepared every morning, noon and night. What a joy to experience it all with love and grace in my heart enabling me to catch the beauty going on in all these precious moments. Much love to my family in Canada, you all thoroughly blessed me this Thanksgiving, I’m truly thankful for all of you.

Rightly Defining Calvinism; Restoring Biblical Consistency

I’m feeling frustrated by a fellow believer who opted to fuel the fire of dissension by persistently misrepresenting the reformed understanding of how one is saved in Christ. We really must put aside assumptions that would cause a ceasing of dialog with those we disagree with. We have nothing to fear in searching for truth in every issue and allowing for the honest examining of each other’s position…especially issues of extreme significance, like the gospel of salvation.

Below is a discussion I had on Facebook with another reformed brother, Edward Dalcour, in which I sook some clarity on a misrepresentation I perceived was coming from an “anti-Calvinist.”

“Me: I was called a troll recently in an online blog forum and was blocked. I had made a comment that I felt much of the American church needs to be evangelized. My testimony speaks to the ignorance of the doctrines of grace in much of the popular American church, and since I’ve been awakened to them I have been drinking from the fountain of grace that spills through them. My desire is to share these things with others in my non-denominational church in patience and gentleness praying for God’s mercy. This guy was pissed at the thought of this, thinking that the church isn’t the ground for reform but the world. Meh.

I recognize that the objector who blocked me suffers from anti-Calvinist syndrome but one of the questions he asked was this; “what was Calvin reforming, either A. The church. Or B. Roman Catholicism. I pointed to a definition of reformation that rediscovered the sovereignty of God in salvation (I think he blocked me because I refused to answer his fallacious either/or question) as the over arching light we should focus on.

In the end he basically asked me how I can follow a man who justified killing the opponents who disagreed with him theologically. I’ve never read Calvin and I haven’t even started my bible history classes yet but perhaps you could point to some good resources to read on this subject? I assume there is a valid concern to the manner in which Calvin may have operated in the civil realm…again, I’m assuming here and have never studied him.

I recognize that in most cases whenever we humans oppose a position the tendency is not to rightly represent your opponent when trying to refute it. Trying to learn…thoughts?

In response to me, Anthony linked to this awesome historian’s article that articulates a thorough narrative of Calvin’s achievements and motive; http://www.the-highway.com/theocracy_Horton.html

^^^^Highly recommend^^^^

Dr. Dalcour responded to my inquiry: Abram, I find three main problems with the anti-Calvinists. 1) many are historically challenged, thus assuming John Calvin “invented” the *doctrines of grace*–so they naturally attack the man, 2) many are theologically misinformed as to what the “doctrines of grace” (also known as Calvinism) actually teaches (typically, they assume inappropriately a hyper-Calvinistic view), and

3) many passages such as John 3:16 and 2 Pet. 3:9 are interpreted in light of tradition,.not exegetical confirmation; not considering the entire content of biblical revelation in which we find a positive affirmation of God’s sovereignty in His election “according to the kind intention of His will.”

Me: What is a proper definition of “hyper-Calvinism?”

Ed: A hyper-Calvinistic view is an unbiblical view and thus a crass misrepresentation of what Calvinism teaches. Hyper-Calvinism asserts in essence, God dragging a person kicking and screaming (against their will) unto salvation or damnation.”

***end of Facebook portion of discussion***

I myself, coming from a non-denominational background, with no known traditions to share with my reformed brothers, have come to share in the doctrines of grace through some of their expositions of scripture available online. I am not undertaking to stir controversy with those who haven’t embraced calvinism in my fellowship, nor am I looking to leave, but I am praying that God spreads the joy and fullness of this blessed knowledge to my brothers and sisters should He will it in His timing.

I’ve become convinced that many are just ignorant, as I was ignorant, (and therefor unduly burdened by a works mentality) of the sustaining spiritual food supply made available through the systematic exposition of the bible’s position on God’s freedom in salvation and the resulting comfort provided in the eternal assurance this understanding brings. My hope is that God gives me the grace to share the awesome truth of His grace with my fellowship and that His mercy spreads like wildfire.

We ought to pray for grace…for the long-suffering love required to teach what the bible teaches in a spirit of gentleness. The challenge is with those who haven’t learned to avoid the fallacious worldview which assumes Calvinism to be a disease in the church. We need grace to articulate in love the reality that the doctrines of Grace (Calvinism) truly serve as an antibiotic that restores biblical consistency.

This post title isn’t meant to say that only Calvinists can restore biblical literacy to the church; I acknowledge that God uses all His children in all the differing shapes of clay we are made of. My aim is in rightly representing a position which throughout my lifelong experience in church has been utterly misrepresented. To that end, this is the most accurate definition I’ve come to thus far: Calvinism isn’t the following of a man but a systematic rediscovery of the true teaching of scripture regarding the sovereignty of God over salvation.

Grace to Teach

How does one lovingly stand up for the truth if the truth being stood upon is offensive to someone? Is it more loving to remain silent rather to instruct? Is it more noble to be passive or vocal? How will they learn if they are not taught?

A good teacher ought to strive to be gentle while not compromising. In the context of the hard things in scripture, Christians need grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in order to do this. We would be fooling ourselves if we think for one second we are able to do this without His help. With man this is impossible, but in Christ all things are possible. Lord, send me grace to finish this race unto my last breath and let Your will be done!

Salvation belongs to The Lord

I’ve continually heard for years that we have a part to play in our salvation. My question is this; if we are truly dead in our sins and if we are objects of Gods wrath before the new birth, which is what the scripture teaches, then how does a dead man do anything to play his part? And if he has a part to play how does that not leave room for him to boast before God? Paul warns us that no man has anything to boast in except the Grace of God in Christ.

Maybe you’ve heard the anology; we’re out there in the water, trying to keep our head above the waves and God throws the floaty device and we just have to grab it. Isn’t the scriptural reality in this presentation that we are just dead floating bodies in the water? Dead men can’t swim because dead men are dead. God doesn’t throw a life saver to dead men, he brings them to life, he plucks them out, he replaces the heart of stone with a heart of flesh, he makes something out of nothing, we are new creations.

We Christians, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we were dead in sins before God freely choose us by His grace through His Son’s work at the cross. Before being confronted with our sin nature and our depravity before our Holy Maker, we were full of pride, lust – and maybe not consciously, but according to scripture, we were God’s enemy under the influence of Satan’s regime. I think it’s easy for us to forget that truth and that is why we must remember our Lord who taught us to daily pray and confess our sin to him, lest we become conceited and full of pride. “Forgive me this day for my sins.” “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” To be poor in Spirit is to walk with an attitude of humble Worship unto God for the saved man recognizes the reality that God saves the ungodly, the sick, the sinners and sanctifies them into His likeness. Apart from His grace no one would be saved. No one could ever deserve salvation otherwise His grace is meaningless. 

Put God at the center of our salvation, for all of scripture declares that salvation is of The Lord. Time and again I read Romans from chapter 1 through and I see the scriptures revealing that the Father gave the Son in eternity past a people whom the Son has come to save. Gods will is that none that the Father gives the Son will be lost and none can come to the Father unless drawn. What I am saying is profound and yet controversial to the Arminian who’s emphasis is rooted in man’s capacity and not God’s. But it is good to meditate on such issues because we ought to long to hold on to what the scripture consistently teaches in context. God chose us, He gave us to the Son. God’s will is the only will that gets to be autonomous (libertarian free will) and our will, will always be creaturely and subject to its Creator. Whenever my will comes into conflict with His, He wins. We are drawn by God because we are His elect, we are saved by God for His own purposes and we can never lose this new birth, just like we can’t undo our natural one, nor would we ever think to want to undo either birth. I am affirming not Calvinism but a sound understanding of our Lord’s clear Word. I truly believe that this understanding of salvation is powerful, sound, historically orthodox and it’s my conviction that when we put God at the center of our salvation we regain the joy of our salvation unto good works, service to the brethren and love for God.

In my search of the scriptures to make my call and election sure, this sound understanding has truly been a blessing to me and an empowerment of the Spirit. His sheep hear His voice. The gospel is about a double imputation; our sins imputed upon the Son and the Son’s righteousness imputed upon His own.

In regards to the doctrine of Grace I’ve described above, I anticipate the standard Arminian objection; it likes to ask why preach the Gospel if God is saving who He wills. The scriptural response is this; the gospel must be preached, for The Lord commands us to do so and as we do we will share in the Might Works of His hands. Also, no one knows who the elect are except for God and it is the joy of the message bearer to sow the good seed of the gospel to all men as we are called to do. The reality is that the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God unto salvation. 

We must be careful not to build a God of our own choosing. The God who is revealed in all the scriptures, read in a rational, simple and linear reading style manner is the God we serve. Many people don’t like the God who is revealed in the scriptures, a God who is placing all dominion under Christ’s feet. His elect will worship Him in Spirit and in truth and we must hold fast to His Word.

Grace and Peace in Christ
-Abe

Servitude is Prime

The sanctification path that the Lord takes each of His new creations on has been staged with sign after sign that direct His remnant to remember His servitude. Our Lord walked in ultimate service to the Father all the way to His unjust death upon a cross securing our eternal redemption.  If for some reason a good brother sees me closing my eyes to these signs I pray that he will rebuke and correct me.

Never forget that the Lord of Creation did not come to be served but to serve and for good cause, to save His chosen people. He calls us to do the same, being a witness might just require us to lay aside our desires to be served and become interested in our neighbor’s eternal state. Love keeps no record of wrongs and grace is given to the humble.

Christ commands that we go into all the world and preach the forgiveness of sins, making disciples. God grant us mercy for our idleness, boldness for Your truth and love for each other and our neighbor!

Grace and Peace in Christ

-Abe