“You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.”
1834 – 1892
Sometimes we need simple reminders, at least I do. Tom Schreiner offers a helpful “perspective corrective” over at Desiring God.
John Piper gesticulates wildly while making some fine points, and asking two good questions.
Doctrine matters. It has been well-said that it’s important to know what you believe, and why you believe it.
This becomes especially serious when the various subjects and ramifications of belief increase in importance.
For example I may “believe” that chocolate ice cream is superior to vanilla ice cream. I may even have occasion to defend this belief, and attempt to persuade others to agree with my point of view. But at the end of the day it really matters very little which ice cream preference I have, and I may even change my mind. This type of belief is quite peripheral, and I frankly don’t order my life around my food preferences.
There are, however, more central or “core” beliefs that have far reaching consequences in my mind, and in the way I live. And no subject is more significant than a man’s beliefs about God; one’s conception of Deity.
I’m firmly persuaded that the Biblical data, which represents God’s own Self-disclosure, sets forth the kind of God that is best described by what is commonly known as Calvinism, which is nothing more or less than a doctrinal summation of the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself.
Yet the spectrum of Christian theism is very broad indeed, encompassing a vast array of overlapping, and sometimes competing systems of thought. I found the following quote to be a helpful summary of the broad sweep of Christian theistic thought:
There are in reality only two types of religious thought. There is the religion of faith, and there is the religion of works. We believe that what has been known in Church History as Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of faith, while that which has been known as Arminianism has been diluted to a dangerous degree by the religion of works and that it is therefore an inconsistent and unstable form of Christianity. In other words, we believe that Christianity comes to its fullest and purest expression in Reformed Faith.
In the early part of the fifth century these two types of religious thought came into direct conflict in a remarkably clear contrast as embodied in two fifth-century theologians, Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine pointed men to God as the source of all true spiritual wisdom and strength, while Pelagius threw men back on themselves and said that they were able in their own strength to do all that God commanded, otherwise God would not command it. We believe that Arminianism represents a compromise between these two systems, but that while in its more evangelical form, as in early Wesleyanism, it approaches the religion of faith, it nevertheless does contain serious elements of error.
We are living in a day in which practically all of the historic churches are being attacked from within by unbelief. Many of them have already succumbed. And almost invariably the line of descent has been from Calvinism to Arminianism, from Arminianism to Liberalism, and then to Unitarianism. And the history of Liberalism and Unitarianism shows that they deteriorate into a social gospel that is too weak to sustain itself. We are convinced that the future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology historically called “Calvinism.’ Where the God centered principles of Calvinism have been abandoned, there has been a strong tendency downward into the depths of man centered naturalism or secularism. Some have declared – rightly, we believe – that there is no consistent stopping place between Calvinism and atheism.
The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute and unconditional, independent of the whole finite creation, and originating solely in the eternal counsel of His will. He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the basis of the divine foreknowledge of all future events, and not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves.
I strongly encourage the reader to consider the entire article from whence the snippet above was taken, which is located here.
Soli Deo Gloria!
In John 9:13-34 we see an amazing demonstation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s manifest deity as He literally and spiritually fashioned “new eyes” for a congenitally blind man. This was a miracle par excellence that was unheard of in all Israel and which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ was Lord and Messiah, the very light of the world. It’s also worth noting that Israel was arguably the most religious people group living in the world at that time just as the argument could be made that ultra-Orthodox Jews are the most religious people group living in the world today – outwardly religious that is.
The Jews of Christ’s day benefitted from having primary access to the very oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2), and thus they ought to have recognized Jesus as Messiah, yet the scripture record is clear and indisputable in its teaching of what the Jews thought of Christ.
They hated Him.
They feared Him.
They rejected Him.
They murdered Him.
As Christians we can understand that all these things constituted the unfolding of God’s own foreordained prophetic plan of the ages, and we rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected on the third day as a propitiation for the sins of all those who would believe on Him by grace through faith alone, being thereby miraculously translated from spiritual death unto spiritual life to the praise of God’s magnificent glory forevermore! His resurrection is a sure and trustworthy promise of a future resurrection for those who are found in Him. His eternal life is the assurance of our future eternal life as we abide in Him. His glorification is our glorification as members of His mystical Body – the bride of Christ, the church invisible which is comprised of living stones that Jesus Christ has redeemed through His atoning work, bringing salvation to every kingdom, tribe, tongue and nation under heaven.
Yet why was He rejected by His own? Why did the vast majority of Jewry conspire and consent to murder their King? The short and ugly answer is UNBELIEF. From his study bible John MacArthur well said:
The story of the healing of the blind man in John 9:13-34 reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief: 1.) unbelief sets false standards; 2.) unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough; 3.) unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis; 4.) unbelief rejects the facts; and 5.) unbelief is self-centered.
Willful and fixed unbelief is the hallmark of the unregenerate heart. The unredeemed cannot and will not assent to the hard truths and hard commands of Jesus Christ. Through their a priori rejection of the truth claims of the Holy Bible and their stubborn hard heartedness unrepentant sinners will gladly commit epistemic suicide in order to avoid a confrontation with the One True and Living God of the Holy Bible, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe. The unregenerate will allow for any number of explanations from the mundane to the wildly absurd, just so long as the explanation isn’t the God of Christian theism. The unregenerate will entertain ideas that man was placed on earth by a terraforming alien race, but they won’t accept the truth that they are morally accountable to a Holy and Righteous God. The unregenerate will allow for any number of deaf and dumb idols to be worshipped and adored, but they can’t tolerate the fact that they are in bondage to their own depravity and wickedness and that they abide under the wrath of God Almighty and are utterly hopeless apart from the finished work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, upon a rugged and sinister Roman cross nearly 2,000 years ago.
The heathen rage and howl at these unspeakably glorious truths, but I fall down on my face in awe and praise before the King of Glory. What love is this? What God is this? What hope is this? It is the hope born in a heart that was once in unbelief. It is evidence that Jesus Christ rules and reigns from heaven, doing as He pleases that He would condescend to save a wretched lump of sin like me. My limited human capacity for words to describe what He has done in my heart fail me. I can’t sum it up and I can’t spell it out. I’m at a loss except to say that He is everything to me. He is my all in all. There is no desire He can’t fill, there is no grief He can’t comfort, there is no hope He can’t exceed, there is no want He can’t meet, there is nothing He can’t do and without Him I can do nothing.
Friend, do you know the true Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself uniquely within the Holy Bible? Does your guilty conscience constantly wag an accusing finger at you crying out “GUILTY! GUILTY!! GUILTY!!!” wherever you may go or attempt to flee? If so, then hear the words of the Savior, the only One who can cure your fatal disease known as sin:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Paul Washer addresses the psychological manipulation involved in the “altar call.”