Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”
We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.
In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.
If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”
• I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion.
(1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).
• I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.
(John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25;Revelation 13:8)
• When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life.
(Ephesians 2:4–5;2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7;Philippians 3:9)
• I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death.
(1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25;John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)
Call it what you will, this is my life. I believe it because I see it in the Bible. And because I have experienced it. Everlasting praise to the greatness of the glory of the grace of God!- from Desiring God
Was Sin Part of God’s Plan?
I tend to get interesting questions asked and when I do, I sometimes like to post my reponse for all of you to read, ponder, and discuss as well. Here is another one that I recently received:
Question: “Was sin part of God’s plan?”
My answer - absolutely!! without a doubt.
i would like to expand on my answer a bit to explain why i say this:
1 – God is Sovereign
Sovereign is one of those words that we reformed types tend to use a lot but rarely define or word-smith to better illustrate. I like to say that it means simply this: “sovereign = soooo reigns!” God so reigns! Meaning that nothing is out of his power or plan. Nothing can thwart him, he never changes, his character is firm and true. His faithfulness and his steadfast love endures forever, as does his plans for his creation.
2- The Best Plan
God could have come up with a million other ways and plans to display his glory in the universe for eternity, however, he chose this one. This is the plan that He decided was the very best way to showcase his beauty. The great Creator didn’t run out of options or have a lack of other or better ideas. He chose this plan. He formulated this. God conceived this in His will and understood it to be the greatest story ever told, in order to go public with his glory for all time.
3- Before the Foundation of the World
Another reason I say sin was/is part of God’s plan is because of all the passages that tell us about his planning all of this (and especially Christ’s atoning work on the cross) before the foundation of the world (Mt. 25.34, Eph. 1.4, Heb. 4.3, Heb. 9.26, 1 Pet. 1.20, Rev. 13.8, Rev. 17.8). So before he created the kosmos, God planned for Christ to come and die to redeem sinners. Therefore, before the creation of the universe, God sovereignly creating us, knowing we would fall and sin, and his plan was to send Christ to redeem us before anything had begun.
4- Plan A
We have a saying at River: “God is always on Plan A.” It is sometimes tweaked a bit: Sometimes we discover that our plan B was God’s plan A all along. etc. etc. Basically the idea is this: God is working everything out to his original plan for his glory. Nothing catches him off-guard, nothing surprises him. Everything is done according to his plan as he works it for the good of his children and the glory of his name.
5- The Punishment of Sin
The penalty for a crime is heightened based on the importance of the one who is offended. For instance, if u make jesting rants about wanting to hurt some bum down the street, u may get a ticket, or possibly even go to jail for the night. However if you make these same threats publicly about the President of the United States, you will probably be in big trouble and most likely end up in prison for plotting a terrorist attack on America. When we sin against God, the punishment reveals the worth of Him whom we have committed treason against. God is the most glorious, holy, and valuable being in all of history. Sin, and the extreme eternal punishment for it reveals his great worth and position of importance as King of the Universe.
6- Sins that Glorify God
Judas sinned, and it resulted in the betrayal of the holy one, which resulted in his death. How horrible… but more astounding… how shocking that we discover this was all a part of God’s plan to redeem his people and shine the eternal spotlight of the universe on Christ. This is where we get comfort from verses such as Romans 8.28. This is where Genesis 50.20 makes sense all of a sudden. Of all the evil and sin in the world… God intends it for a greater good. He is painting a bigger picture than we can see, and sometimes it takes dark strokes to paint a glorious mosaic of his grace. Up close they look ugly and horrible, but far away, God’s sees a greater design orchestrated together from the universe’s most breathtakingly magnificent artist. He is working all things for our good and His glory!
7- Jonah & the Sailors
I am currently preaching through the book of Jonah. I find it amazing that the wicked pagan sailors get saved (my perception) in Jonah 1, as a direct result of Jonah’s disobedience to God’s missionary calling. I truly believe that it was within God’s plan to call Jonah to be a missionary to Nineveh, knowing he would run, and indirectly becoming a missionary to these sailors. God intended to bring them salvation through even a wayward backsliding prophet. Its amazing to me that, as I again read through this amazing book, I must continually remind myself and the congregation that God has entrusted to me that God had all of this in mind before Jonah 1.1. How awesome is our Lord!!
8- Mercy & Grace
Finally I believe most importantly, I believe God had sin in his grand theater script of the universe because He intended for us to be staggered by his mercy and his grace. Allow me to explain:
• Mercy is defined as relenting from due penalty. another way to understand it is: “to not get what we deserve”.
• Grace is defined as unmerited favor. another way to understand it is: “to get what we don’t deserve”.
Had sin not been a part of God’s plan, we would only have a vague idea of his mercy and his grace. We would study them in a book, or hear about these topics by others as a way to learn them like a struggling student reads cliff notes. But God had a greater plan in mind. His plan would be one where we would understand his mercy & grace, not just with head knowledge, but experiential knowledge.
Because we were convicted felons and AWOL deserters committing mutiny and thus had become traitors to our King… we were his enemies! We were at enmity with God. But instead… precious is the mercy and grace of God to us when we discover that His wrath should have been deservingly upon us for our extreme, defiant insubordination of His will. We are not simply saved from Hell, but much more, we are rescued from our own disobedience. We are not good christians trying simply to sing songs and get through life together. We are redeemed rebels that should be continually awestruck by this amazing face: God loved us anyways! We are not just the messengers of His gospel, we are the evidence of it! We are the trophies of His grace!
There is a verse in the Bible that continually staggers me… Ephesians 1.6. here is vv.3-6:
“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…”
We are not to be complacent about some abstract terms like mercy & grace, that we know nothing of and ponder as mere philosophy or sing about as nostalgic heart-warming camp songs. Rather, we are to be unsteadily, open-mouthed, flabbergasted by God’s love for us. We should be overwhelmed by this frequently, to the point that it causes us to well up in tears to look to our perfect righteousness in Christ, and to praise Him and His glorious grace unto sinners like us.
Oh yes, I believe that sin was a part of God’s plan for people just like us to exchange emails, conversations, and thoughts and to be continually amazed at the grace of God upon sinners like us. The result of such knowledge ought to cause us to worship Him today and throughout all eternity… To the praise of His glorious grace!!
Matching your Practice with your Position
“[God] chose us … that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).
The challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice with your position.
God chose you in Christ to make you “holy and blameless” in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure, without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19).
Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views us “in Him [Christ].” God sees us as “holy and blameless” because Christ our Savior is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That’s because God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Despite our exalted position in God’s sight, our practice often falls far short of His holy standard. Therefore, the challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match our practice to our position, realizing that sinless perfection won’t come until we are fully glorified in Heaven (Rom. 8:23).
How do you meet that challenge? By prayer, Bible study, and yielding your life to the Spirit’s control. Commit yourself to those priorities today as you seek to fulfill the great purpose to which you’ve been called—the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
- from Drawing Near – Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith by John MacArthur (Logos Bible Software)
Benny Hinn… is a Sith Lord?
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