I’ve never called myself a Calvinist, but I’ve been slapped with that label recently. I do agree with the “five points”, however, I’m not familiar with the rest of John Calvin’s theology or system of beliefs in entirety, so I won’t title myself. Besides, I think believing in God’s grace would make me a Bible-ist first…or maybe it would just make me a Christian?
What is it that’s got people so riled up about something as beautiful as God’s grace and sovereignty? I understand the shock of it because I’ve been there. I understand it completely! I know how I felt when I was first introduced to it. However, God has changed my thinking from man-centered to Christ-centered. I no longer view God as “owing” man something. We are owed nothing but what we deserve and that is Hell. Flat out. I won’t mince words about that. But why do other Christians get so bothered by even considering God having a choice in who receives salvation? Why does it bother them that God must change our hearts in order for us to even be able to receive Him? And why does it bother them that theheart that’s changed to receive Him can’t choose to do anything but receive Him. A changed heart comes with changed desires. Here are some of the reasons that have crossed my mind why many people have a hard time with accepting God’s sovereign grace:
-Men are prideful.
-Man thinks of man as the focus of the universe instead of God
-Man wants more freedom than God.
-Man thinks God “owes” him something or that he is deserving of good things from God.
-Man thinks that if God doesn’t work the way he thinks He should or wants Him to, then He’s wrong or unfair.
-Man doesn’t like to be at the mercy of anyone other than himself.
-Man doesn’t really want to trust God, he’d rather trust himself.
-Man wants God to be God when he wants Him to be God and in the manner which he prefers Him to conduct His Godliness.
So in effect, I’m a “Calvinist” or anything other than just a Christian because I believe that God created this universe for HIS purposes, HIS pleasure, and HIS glory. Who is the creation to answer back to his Creator? I recognize that I was put here to glorify God and to serve the purposes that He put me here to serve. When I was speaking with a loved one about God’s elect, I was accused of possibly developing the mentality of boasting, “Oh, I’m God’s elect! That must mean I’m special!” And that could not be FURTHER from the truth. When you realize what you were before regeneration and faith in Christ, you understand the horrific state you were in, being under the wrath of the Almighty God! I was no better, no more special, and worth no more than any other sinful human being. There was NOTHING good about me, and being under the wrath of God is being under the wrath of God..I don’t think “degrees” or levels come into play much here. So when I think about the fact that He, in His own will and for His own good pleasure, sent His Spirit into me crying Abba, Father, when I didn’t deserve it, it does nothing but humble and baffle me! Humbled and baffled because I know that I don’t deserve it..and God could have very well left me alone to face the penalty for my sins committed against Him. I understand that I’m unworthy of such a gracious and precious gift. I have NOTHING to brag on and no reason to look at myself as if I was something special. In my flesh dwells no good thing…and before God’s work in me, I was controlled by my flesh..and in that state, there was NOTHING I could do to please God (Romans 8:6-8). And I couldn’t go from being fleshly-minded to spiritually-minded until the Holy Spirit enabled me to be so. The natural man can’t understand the things of the Spirit (1Cor 2:14). Therefore, in order for him to understand the things of the Spirit, the Spirit must reside upon him and in him. A man who is still carnally-minded and dead in his sins and trespasses can’t make himself understand the things of the Spirit. No, God BEGINS the work and He, being faithful, will COMPLETE it (Philippians 1:6).
On the other hand, for someone to think that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and enforced his mighty will to “activate” Christ’s finished work…what stops him from boasting? “I chose Christ! I was smart/spiritual/wise/intelligent/had common sense enough to choose Him.” And those who didn’t weren’t smart enough or spiritual enough? So then your salvation gives you reason to boast or look to yourself as the final decision maker in salvation instead of God? That would kind of mean God would have to share the glory for your salvation. “Thanks be to God for providing Jesus, but thanks be to me for making it effective.” Glory split 50-50?
I’m labled with another title because I know that salvation is of the Lord, and that it is by His grace that we’re saved through faith, and not of ourselves, but it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-10. I just want anyone who claims the name of Christ to know that salvation is a product of God’s work in them by His grace and faith which He gave them…not by some emotional decision they made when they raised their hand, filled out a card, or repeated a “sinner’s prayer”…and not because they decided to give mere mental assent to Jesus Christ. Salvation is a miraculous work of God. The greatest miracle He’s performed/performing among human beings. It is literally a miracle that an enemy-of God by nature, wrath-deserving sinner can be transformed into a child of God, truly loving Him and having their sins atoned for by Christ and Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, causing them to be justified and declared acceptable to God and inheriting eternal life! Professing Christians of ALL “denominations” need to know that.
Soli Deo Gloria! Christ is King!