Friday, May 3, 2013

What is Calvinism: Part 2

We continue to answer the title question by working our way through the Canons of Dort (see part I). Today,

For context, the canons are divided into five "heads" with a number of articles (and rejections of errors) under each heading. Here are the five heads:




Now continuing on with the first head, we are at article 3:

FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 3. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tiding to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified.  "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:14-15).

God, having chosen some undeserving persons out of all the undeserving persons in the world and of all time to have eternal life, provides the means to obtain eternal life. How is it that sinful man can or will believe the good news that Jesus came to save sinners?

The canons assert here that God is merciful such that He sends messengers carrying good news (Romans 10:14-15 as is noted). And further, He sends this joyful good news when and to whom He pleases. After all, He is sovereign over all. Stories abound of conversions where men testify how that someone sort of mysteriously came into their lives and shared the grace, the good news of Jesus with them.

These "messengers" with the good news...who are these messengers? Preachers, teachers, firemen, students and the like. Businessmen, housewives, store owners, managers, etc. In other words, all of us who name the name of Christ.

Article 3 simply tells us that God saves His people by means of other of His people sharing that good news that Jesus saves sinners. SDG!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What is Calvinism?

The term "Calvinism" is used by various groups who adhere to the teachings, to some degree, of Reformer John Calvin. Some hold to the teachings of Calvin on the doctrines surrounding salvation while others also adhere to his teachings on the doctrines of the church, worship, etc. as well.

It is common to hear Calvinists declare themselves 5 point Calvinists. This refers to what has come to be known as "The 5 Points of Calvinism." Still others say that they are 4 point Calvinists, 3 point Calvinists, etc.

But Calvin didn't formulate the five points. Actually the Synod of Dort in 1618-19 did that for us. This synod was a gathering of church leaders to refute the errors of Jacob Arminius. Arminius' theological errors were spreading throughout the churches and needed to be demonstrated false. The synod answered Arminius with five main points.

I will work my way slowly through the Canons of Dort. In doing so, the question, "What is Calvinism?" will be answered. Those wishing to find that answer need look no further than these magnificent five points.

Canons of Dort (1619 A.D.)

The Synod of Dordrecht
November 13, 1618—May 9, 1619

First Head of Doctrine. Divine Election and ReprobationFIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: "that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Rom 3:19). And: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23). And: "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23).
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 2. but in this the love of God was manifested, that He "sent his one and only Son into the world, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (1 John 4:9John 3:16).

Here we see (articles 1-2 of 18) beginning to set forth the doctrine of election and reprobation. "All have sinned in Adam" and are justly deserving to perish. Man, woman, boy or girl. The elderly and the newborn. All are accountable to God and should God have left us all to perish He would be just. We deserve it. We have sinned in Adam our federal head and we are guilty from the womb.

But God...! For God so loved the world...(John 3:16). God, rich in love and mercy, sent His son to save sinners. Not every person who ever has or ever will live will be saved from the wrath of God. That would be what is called universalism. But He chose to save some of the undeserving out of all the undeserving. More on that later.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Must You Be a Missionary or a Pastor to Make a Difference?

I ran across an excerpt from What Can I Do? Making a Global Difference Right Where You Are by David Livermore (Zondervan, 2011) 
To live out our part of this story as the church means weaving our priestly identity into every part of our lives. Politics are not somehow off-limits for Christians, but they need to be reformed. The domains of art, business, and science should be reclaimed for Christ, not segregated as secular distractions from the “real” work of ministry. My dad used to proudly declare, “Both my sons are in full-time ministry,” and almost as an afterthought he would add, “and my daughter is a nurse.” I realize that “full-time ministry” is sometimes a shorthand way of referring to people who earn their paycheck from full-time employment in a church or ministry. But what could more closely resemble full-time ministry than the work my sister does daily as a nurse, caring for cancer patients and their family members? We have to reject the notion that it’s the really spiritual people who should become the pastors and missionaries. We are all invited to partner with God–as nurses and truck drivers, aunts and uncles, engineers and musicians, and, yes, pastors and missionaries. The problem isn’t that the Christian community lacks doctors, farmers, businesspeople, or musicians in our midst. The problem is that there are so few doctors, farmers, businesspeople, and musicians who are truly living out their priestly identity in their profession.That’s the central idea of this book. Most of us don’t integrate our Christian identity into our daily tasks. While serving as a missionary overseas is one way of fulfilling our priestly calling, so also is serving in a local hospital near home. What matters most is how you live out your unique vocation as a follower of Jesus Christ.
May it be more so.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Olney Hymn #30. "Is this thy kindness to thy friend."

Is this thy kindness to thy friend.

Poor, weak, and worthless though I am,
I have a rich almighty friend;
Jesus, the Savior, is his name,
He freely loves, and without end.
He ransomed me from hell with blood,
And by his pow’r my foes controlled;
He found me, wand’ring far from God,
And brought me to his chosen fold.
He cheers my heart, my wants supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be
Enthroned with him above the skies,
O! what a friend is CHRIST to me.
But ah! I my inmost spirit mourns,
And well my eyes with tears may swim,
To think of my perverse returns;
I’ve been a faithless friend to him.
Often my gracious Friend I grieve,
Neglect, distrust, and disobey,
And often Satan’s lies believe,
Sooner than all my Friend can say.
He bids me always freely come,
And promises whate’er I ask:
But I am straitened, cold and dumb,
And count my privilege a task.
Before the world that hates his course,
My treach’rous heart has throbbed with shame;
Loth to forego the worlds applause,
I hardly dare avow his name.
Sure were not I most vile and base,
I could not thus my friend requite!
And were not he the God of grace,
He’d frown and spurn me from his sight.
John Newton. Link

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Case for Infant Baptism

While I can affirm the validity of both paedobaptism and credobaptism, this post will reflect my understanding, albeit briefly, of infant baptism (paedobaptism). UPDATE: I should add that this section of the WCF does not in entirety preclude credo immersion. paedobaptism is delineate in points III and IV.

Here is a summary from the WCF on baptism.

I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,[1] not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church;[2] but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,[3] of his ingrafting into Christ,[4] of regeneration,[5] of remission of sins,[6] and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.[7] Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.[8]

II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.[9]

III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.[10]

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ,[11] but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.[12]

V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;[16] yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.[17]

VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.[18]

Now, fire away.