Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ten Effects of Believing in the Five Points of Calvinism

by John Piper, April 20, 2002
  1. These truths make me stand in awe of God and lead me into the depth of true God-centered worship.
  2. These truths help protect me from trifling with divine things.
  3. These truths make me marvel at my own salvation.
  4. These truths make me alert to man-centered substitutes that pose as good news.
  5. These truths make me groan over the indescribable disease of our secular, God-belittling culture.
  6. These truths make me confident that the work which God planned and began, he will finish – both globally and personally.
  7. These truths make me see everything in the light of God's sovereign purposes – that from him and through him and to him are all things, to him be glory forever and ever.
  8. These truths make me hopeful that God has the will, the right, and the power to answer prayer that people be changed.
  9. These truths reminds me that evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved, and that there is great hope for success in leading people to faith, but that conversion is not finally dependent on me or limited by the hardness of the unbeliever.
  10. These truths make me sure that God will triumph in the end.
The full detailed treatment of the ten effects can be found in the article, "Ten Effects of Believing in the Five Points of Calvinism."

18 Comments:

Blogger naniecheng said...

Hi there. U have an interesting blog. You seem to believe in predestination? Can I ask how does a Calvin know that he/she has been preelected by God? Will this only really be revealed after death? Since we cannot predict the future, how do you know that you will remain true to the faith till death? Afterall many things have happened in life that have caused us to reevaluate our position and values. In other words, is there assurance of salvation for Calvins? I mean how do you really know that you are in the preelected group? Surely going to church or have serious christian committments alone are not sufficient evidences of preelection. Pls correct me if I'm wrong or have made any wrong assumptions here. thanks.

18/8/05 8:46 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I agree with you that "going to church or have serious christian commitments alone are not sufficient evidences." If we based our assurance of salvation on these good works, I think we would never be assured since we will continue to sin to a matter of degree.

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." (1 John 2:19)

This verse shows us that those who abandon the faith were never saved in the first place. Since faith is a gift of God according to Ephesians 2:8-9, we should trust in God to help us persevere in our faith.

R.C. Sproul put it this way:

But I’m convinced that the Bible teaches that what God begins in our life, he finishes. Paul teaches, for example, in Philippians, “He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it to the end.” My confidence for my future salvation rests in my confidence that God will keep his promise and that Christ will intercede for me and preserve me. Again, if it were left to me, I would obviously fall away. I like to look at it this way: I’m walking the Christian life with my hand in God’s hand. If my perseverance depended upon my holding tightly to God’s hand, I would surely fall away because at some point I would let go. But I believe that the Scriptures teach us that God is holding my hand, and because he is holding my hand, I don’t have to fear that I will fall ultimately and finally.

Another way of looking at this issue is that we must ask ourselves whether we have true saving faith. John Piper has given a good explanation in his article, "The Agonizing Problem of the Assurance of Salvation." I quote: "For faith to be real there must be a supernatural 'light' that God shines into the heart to show us that Christ is glorious and wonderful."

There is another article written by John Piper titled "Helping People Have the Assurance of Salvation."

18/8/05 11:44 AM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

Thanks for taking time to answer.

I read through the article you recommended - The Agonizing Problem of the Assurance of Salvation - and I get the feeling that Piper is saying a sign of saving faith (i.e. knowing for sure that one falls within the preelected category) is experiencing that "supernatural light that God shines into the heart".

It is true that only the Holy Spirit can lead us to call Him Abba father so that "light" that Piper mentions must be the Holy Spirit's revelation. Is it then possible for the Holy Spirit to reveal and for a person to willfully harden his heart and reject that "light"? I'm thinking of Heb 10:29 as I ask this qn.

In other words, will God reveal the "light" even to people whom He knows will reject it eventually at some point of time in their life?

Also, if I have felt that "light" that Piper talks about in my own life, does it mean that I can now rest on my laurels because it is God who holds my hand?

18/8/05 6:00 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

1. Is it then possible for the Holy Spirit to reveal and for a person to willfully harden his heart and reject that "light"?
This question touches on the doctrine of irresistible grace. Can the influence of the Holy Spirit be resisted? The answer is yes. In Acts 7:51, it is written: "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!"

However, let me pose a different question: can the inward call of the Holy Spirit be resisted successfully? The answer is no. For when God predestined and call you, He is able to overcome all of your resistences by regenerating your hardened heart and bring you to salvation.

Consider this verse: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:30)

This verse is used in the Reformed Golden Chain of Salvation. It means that all whom God predestined will be called. All whom the Holy Spirit called will be justified by faith in Jesus Christ. All who are justified by faith will be glorified in Heaven.

It is also written in John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

2. In other words, will God reveal the "light" even to people whom He knows will reject it eventually at some point of time in their life?
We must differentiate between the outward call and the inward call of God. The outward call (i.e. the hearing of the message of the gospel) can be rejected. However, the inward call (i.e. the supernatural regeneration) by the Holy Spirit is effectual.

I have already quoted 1 John 2:19 in my previous comment. Those who reject the faith later in life probably would have received the outward call, but have never received the inward call of the Holy Spirit. These people were never of the elect in the first place.

3. Also, if I have felt that "light" that Piper talks about in my own life, does it mean that I can now rest on my laurels because it is God who holds my hand?
No. As John Piper wrote in this article, "Assurance cannot neglect the painful work of self-examination." For it is written: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)

18/8/05 9:28 PM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

Maybe the real issue in Calvinistic thinking that I have to come to terms with is the fact that God chooses who he wants to enter the kingdom. It seems so very predeterministic. By extension it also means that I do not have a choice when it comes to matters of eternal life or death. My fate has long been sealed and it has been determined since before time if my name has been written in the Book of Life. Somehow this thought depresses me.

So while Christ claims to have died for all mankind, actually in His mind while hanging on the cross, he was really only dying for an elected few.

God is sovereign and He does say that "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Rom 9:15)

Yes God can do whatever He wants. Who are we to question the greatness of his plans and designs.

But this is just very discouraging for me.

19/8/05 2:00 PM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

Just to add on, I really cannot imagine a God who doesn't give us a choice. It's inconceivable for me.

I've been brought up to always believe that God gives us free will and the salvation call of the Spirit is the same, equal, to all people. What is different is our choice of responses and that is why we have believers and non-believers.

Am I jumping the gun to say then that there is no concept of 'Free Will' in Calvinist theology, especially in matters concerning salvation?

19/8/05 3:34 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I have written this article, " Sovereignty of God versus Man's Free Will."

Before we are saved in Christ, we used to think that as long as we do good works and try not to do bad things, we will be good enough to go to Heaven. Unfortunately, that is untrue. This way of thinking makes us believe that it is our own innate ability that makes us saved. We become saved because we are more intelligent or more hardworking than the ones who are not. This false teaching teaches that salvation is totally Man's responsibility.

I view the Arminian belief of Man's choice in salvation as a left-over from the false teaching of salvation by good works. The Arminianists believe that they choose God because they are somehow or rather more intelligent than the ones who rejected God. In other words, it is because of their innate abilities (i.e. good works) that they are saved.

However, salvation is totally of God alone. I see the doctrine of predestination at work from the Old Testament to the New Testament. God chose Noah, Abraham, Jacob, the people of Israel, Moses, David, the apostles etc. I do not see these people being given a choice to reject God. When God call, we must follow.

To better appreciate this doctrine, you need to understand the Bible teaches that we were "dead in our transgressions and sins." (Ephesians 2:1) But God supernaturally "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions." (Ephesians 2:5) We were already dead, but God chooses to revive some of us. This is different from the Arminian gospel where God extended a hand to a drowning man in need of rescue. In the Arminian gospel, the drowning man still plays a part in his salvation by grabbing hold of God's hand.

I do not see the doctrine of predestination as discouraging at all. It turn my eyes to God alone and assures me that God is always in control. Whenever anything bad happens, I know that it is all part of God's plan. It makes me view my salvation as an extraordinary supernatural work of God who saved me dispite the ugliness of my sins. I marvel at the great mercy of God who saved me even though I am not worthy of His love towards me.

19/8/05 5:08 PM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

But isn't predestination discouraging for the non-believer?

19/8/05 8:42 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

If someone does not believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I do not see how predestination could be discouraging to that person.

Furthermore, that person might be a non-believer now, but it does not necessarily mean that he/she would remain a non-believer in the future. Since we do not know who are the elect, we must continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to that particular non-believer.

We must not forget that God also predestined prayer. And when we pray, we ask God to regenerate the hardened heart of the non-believer. In a sense, the Calvinist doctrine of prayer is more powerful than the Arminians'. While the Arminians believe that God cannot supernaturally influence Man's choice, the Calvinists believe God is completely sovereign over Man's choice.

19/8/05 10:02 PM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

From a predestination perspective, why does one have to pray for another person's regeneration? What is the role of prayer from your perspective regarding another's salvation? What do you mean when you say that prayer is predestined?

My understanding of predestination so far from our discussion is that God is sovereign and has already chosen.

So why pray for that person? What happens when we pray?

19/8/05 10:41 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

The short answer is that just as God predestined evangelism, God also predestined prayer. Prayer and evangelism are the means through which the lost are saved.

John Piper has provided an excellent explanation of prayer in this article, "The Sovereignty of God and Prayer."

19/8/05 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Felt the two verses you have used in your comments have not been clearly explained.

1)"And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:30)

What Paul is saying is that all the Christians who accepted Jesus as their Saviour are (and not "will be")justified. And for those whom God justified, they are also glorified in Christ. Christ is the hope of glory and He lives in each and every believer.

Of course, you probably was refering in general to Christians in the future who will answer the call and so on so forth.

2)You quoted "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5) to support what you have posted about John Piper's idea of self-examination.

Paul in 2Corinthians, went on to explain after he asked them to test themselves. He posted a rhetorical question: Do you not realized that Christ Jesus is in you! That is the essence of the self-test Paul was talking about. He was telling them that CHRIST who lives and reigns in heaven IS IN THEM.

Paul was not tearing them down and charging at them to do a "painful" self examination. He was trying to get them to realize their identity in Christ Jesus. That Christ is the wisdom of God, their righteousness, their joy and their redemption.

Once one realized one's identity in Christ, by GOD's Grace, he will not wilfully do something wrong. I am talking about normal people. No need for "painful" self-examination but the realization of one's identity in Christ.

22/8/05 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And YES! You can rest in the assurance that Christ's finishED work on the CROSS. Yes, Christ came so that you and I have ETERNAL life and life more abundantly. ETERNAL means (in my known dictionaries) forever. CHRIST work is eternal redemptive and complete and the perfect sin offering to GOD. It is FINISHED!
thks.

22/8/05 10:41 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

1) Regarding Romans 8:30, I believe you have misunderstood the inward call of the Holy Spirit. The inward call of the Holy Spirit grants the elected person faith and repentance. It is through the faith of the elect that they are justified ("accepted Jesus as their Savior"). Therefore, the phrasing of my words is still essentially correct. For the regeneration of the Holy Spirit brings about faith and repentance, and faith and repentance brings about justification. Therefore, those who are called by the Holy Spirit will be justified by faith.

I would also like to clarify the verse Romans 8:29, "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Arminians would interpret this verse as God looking into the future of the choice they would make with regard to the gospel. However, a careful reading of Romans 8:29 would show that it does not indicate at all God's foreknowledge of one's decision. The straightforward interpretation would be that God foreknew the identities of His elect.

Let me say that I do not deny God knows what decisions we will make in the future. But to interpret Romans 8:29 as God basing His choice of the elect on their future decisions would be a significant error.

2) On 2 Corinthians 13:5, the full verse is: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?"

Unfortunately, you have missed the essence, which is the phrase "unless, of course, you fail the test." With this specific phrase, "Christ is in you" is no longer a simple rhetorical question, but one that introduces the possibilities of failure. Therefore, you cannot interpret this verse as simply "realizing one's identity in Christ."

In the first part of the verse, the Apostle Paul was asking the Corinthians to test themselves to ensure that they were in the faith. In the second part, the Apostle Paul elaborated further that if they failed the test, Christ is not in them.

24/8/05 12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the eventual answer that Calvinism has when all the "pushing and shoving" is done... "I didn't ASK to be born!" Everything is "god's fault!" Calvinism is merely the god of the natural man with a bible in his hand proclaiming to be a "fundamentalist." Did God not make a man in His own image and likeness who He could commune with... you know... have a conversation with and not know what the man's answer was until he gave it? The understanding of who God is and what He wanted to do through His relationship with His creation is turned into a morass of "intellectual goo" by the false and ignorant claims made by the teaching of Calvinism. Though Calvinists are very intellectual they merely complicate what God has given to the "weak" and "simple." Ignorance can be forgiven, but the Devil has used Calvinism to keep many at bay from understanding the God of Scripture, by shamefully making their cohorts ineffectual in understanding the doctrine that is given to free us and make us mature in the things of God. Calvinism is most assuredly not OF or even ABOUT the God of creation, but it is spawned in and about the god of this present world.
We, the Church the Body of Christ, are not Israel. Be careful to pay attention to who the Bible is talking to when it speaks. There is a Kingdom gospel (gospel of the circumcision) that is not the same as the grace gospel (gospel of the uncircumcision) that has a context that will confuse the reader if he is not discerning by "rightly dividing!" All Scripture is TO us, but not all Scripture is FOR us specifically or ABOUT us specifically. By mixing what God was doing and will do with the Jews on this earth with what he is doing with us "Gentiles" and the Church, the Body of Christ today is nothing but trouble and misunderstanding in the making. Calvinism's homebase is in Reformed Theology and Roman Catholicism which makes the whole Bible into one large "clump" of words that apply to all who have ever been created. I'm surprised that there isn't someone somewhere building another ark to please God! I've heard that Christianity is a thinking man's religion and I believe that it is. Reason and sensibility shouldn't get tossed out in the name of spirituality though. Spiritualizing scripture and preconceived concepts of the Almighty are the general "pap" of Calvinisms blur. The word "Sovereignty" is a buzzword that should set anyone's ear on edge. The word is not in the Scripture that has been preserved for us by God for the ages. Many other "words" are offered by Calvinism that don't make a lick of sense, but are meant to "cow" the "detractors" and other "ignorant oafs" who would dare disagree with the proponents of John Calvins error. Be careful. II Tim. 2:15

10/10/05 8:15 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Here is the eventual answer that Calvinism has when all the "pushing and shoving" is done... "I didn't ASK to be born!" Everything is "god's fault!"

On the contrary, Calvinism asserts that God is never at fault. God’s will is perfect (Romans 12:1). Everything that happened is in accordance with God’s pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:5).

Did God not make a man in His own image and likeness who He could commune with... you know... have a conversation with and not know what the man's answer was until he gave it?

Are you saying that God does not know the future? Doesn’t the Scriptures clearly say that God is omniscient (Romans 11:33-34)?

Though Calvinists are very intellectual they merely complicate what God has given to the "weak" and "simple."

The Scriptures never claim itself to be “simple.” The Apostle Peter wrote of the Apostle Paul’s writings, “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16)

One cannot be “ignorant” and distort the meaning of the Scriptures, but must take extreme care to understand every verse in the light of the entire Word of God.

The word "Sovereignty" is a buzzword that should set anyone's ear on edge. The word is not in the Scripture that has been preserved for us by God for the ages.

What does one understand by the word “sovereignty?” In the context of the Word of God, the word “sovereignty” means God’s absolute right to do all things according to His own good pleasure.

You can find many instances in the NIV where the Hebrew phrase ădônây yehôvih is translated as “Sovereign LORD.”

In the KJV, Psalm 103:19 states, “The LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” The NASB translates “His kingdom ruleth over all” as “His sovereignty rules over all.” The original Hebrew word for “ruleth” is mâshal, which means to rule, have dominion, or to reign.

To deny God’s sovereignty over all things is to deny the very nature of God. Surely you do not deny God's rule over all things?

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

16/10/05 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Faith is not a gift according to Ephesians 2. Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender. The “gift” is not “faith.”

1/4/07 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So God has created men who are not elect - (This might even include you.) They have no chance and never will under Calvinist doctrine to be saved. This man made theology is therefore based around a god who sees fit to create men whose only eternal purpose is to burn in Hell. Only a Pharisee could think that is proper. It certainly isn't loving.

17/12/09 4:47 AM  

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