A Child’s Witness

A child’s unrestrained unction will test an adults perception of their own boldness. What do I consider bold? I’m a grown man now, and I sometimes think myself bold for sharing my faith in public. My oldest son Abe, who is now 4, is challenging me on this issue. I try to teach my children about God’s character, not just some of them but all of the characteristics of God revealed in scripture. His Holiness, perfection, law, mercy, patience, grace and love, etc. I teach them that Christ came to save sinners from hell and gives the only true hope for eternal life. I have tracts around the house that I bought from Ray Comfort’s Living Waters ministry that challenge people to consider if they think they are good when compared to God’s law. Abe is fascinated with these tracts and asks me to read them to him often. 

Abe talks loudly.  Sometimes he asks questions about the fear of God, death, sin, the unseen and a whole litany of other subjects because we constantly talk about them. My younger boy is starting to do the same, he is about to turn 3. Sometimes these discussions will erupt in public places, recently one did at the local diner. I have to be honest, there is an impulse of the flesh that wants to silence a loud child who is talking of any uncommon subject in public, especially when the subject is about God. Most grown people honestly just don’t want God in their thinking. A lesson I’m learning is that a child who is taught of God will not hesitate to talk about Him aloud, anywhere. As Christ reminds the believer in the scriptures, let the little children come to me. Holy Spirit subdue this flesh that strives to remain passive along with the rest of culture. 

So I find myself asking the question, is this phenomenon a coincidence? Is this not an exceptionally well timed testing of my faith? Here is the reality, my child’s faith challenges me to always be ready to talk to my neighbor about the hope that is in me; I can see this child will not hesitate to bring Him up in public discourse at anytime and in any place. Will I brush my boys’ comments to the side and choose to talk about the whether or will I use them as an opportunity to witness to Christ, teach them in public and proclaim the forgiveness of sins to this world? Lord have mercy, for if I’m honest I’ve probably elected to do the former 9 times out of 10. Not necessarily due to unbelief but most likely due to my own laziness. 

Abe has been invited by a friend from his nursery school to a birthday party. Of his friends from school, this will be Abe’s very first party he attends and he is super excited. He wants to give his pal those gospel tracts as part of his gift. He is super enthusiastic about giving these tracts to his friend because he considers the message contained in there to be good news. Abe has told me that I might need to read them to his friend because he can’t read yet. So my teaching my boy is producing fruit and now opportunity is presenting itself to me in that I have been given an objective witness to my son’s friend’s parents. I am encouraging him to give the tracts and am now praying for boldness to share the gospel at this birthday party when I go with him. I do sense the flesh wanting to object at so many points here, but it must be slayed at every one of them and I will not even give rise to its arguments. God willing, these parents of Abe’s friend will get the gospel through my son’s witness, through me and through those tracts. 

As I reflect on a child’s faith, which both Abe and Caleb are starting to display more and more, they are not quick to hesitate to have God in their thinking or on their lips like most adults are. They are coming to Christ and I can see that Christ doesn’t turn the little ones away. I know this world will certainly challenge them to be silent as it does me, but I better not do such a thing. Just the other day Caleb pointed to the moon when we got out of the car and shouted, “look daddy, God put that there!” I am thankful to see that my children hear me when I speak and understand what I say in the privacy of our home. The duty given to me now is to continue the discussion whenever and wherever we find ourselves, inviting whoever into it. They aren’t afraid to ask questions in my house or in public and I intend to keep it that way. The easy thing to do would be not to give real answers but to silence their inquiries and avoid the work of finding real responses. To hush their excitement. 

As a Christian father, I now see parenting partially designed to help parents grow in the area of witnessing. Will we have faith like a child? Will we be excited to talk about God wherever the opportunity arises? I pray that me and my wife will be enabled to do so by God’s grace, for in this work is wisdom, joy and blessing. 

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!