My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace – Part 3


A great mystery once surrounded the circumstances of my salvation experience that for a decade confounded all my attempts to unveil its secrets.

Let me start at the beginning. In the summer of 1993 I found a job at the recycling center of a local non-profit agency. They provided a training environment for people with developmental disabilities. The job humbled me, but I did enjoy working with the people. My supervisor lived his Christian faith openly, and stood boldly for his convictions. To make a long story short, he preached the gospel to me for a solid year-and-a-half, slowly chipping away at my granite hard heart. One day he quoted a scripture that flew like a steel-tipped arrow, breaching my great wall of enmity.

Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:11-12) Continue reading

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My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace – Part 2


Surprisingly, my conversion from free-will, Arminian theology to Calvinism came rather swiftly. It’s shocking really, if you only understood the depths of hatred I once held toward those doctrines. (See Part 1 of this series for proof).

I resisted initially, desperately hopeful that some sensible compromise existed between these diametrically opposed belief systems. I figured Arminianism fell into one ditch while Calvinism veered clear over to the other side of the road. I searched in vain for the imaginary highway that ran through the middle of both views, but of course I never found any signs to point the way. After wrangling with Calvinism for about 4 months, I finally beheld its beauty with a clarity only the Holy Spirit could grant.

The ditch I had plowed into, turns out, is really an off-ramp exiting the pothole plagued ‘Free Will’ service road. It flows into a smoothly paved four-lane interstate winding a clear path to the Celestial City. The road first runs through the firmly established townships of Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura and finally Soli Deo Gloria, which lies at the very gates of the streets of gold. Continue reading

My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace – Part 1


Almost exactly two years ago I was involved in a titanic spiritual battle between two opposing theological views. I could feel the once rock solid doctrines of Free Will slipping through my fingers like fine sand. I begged and beseeched the Lord to deliver me from the relentless reasonings and scriptural bombshells ripping the house I had built on the shifting dunes of man-centered doctrines. My pride and self-respect were on the line.

See, for the first decade of my born-again life I embraced Arminianism. In other words, I believed that man’s free will is the deciding factor in salvation. Calvinism, which is the belief that God is sovereign over all things, including man’s salvation, had recently started making sense to me and I was drawn to it. (While at the same time being repulsed by it).

Calvinism was a dirty word in my church. I considered it to be akin to the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and liberal mainliners: Rank apostasy!!

I used to say things as:

“Calvinism is a doctrine of the devil!”

Or worse yet:

“If God is like how the Calvinists describe him, I would never serve such a cruel, heartless dictator who arbitrarily chooses who will and will not be saved!”

In my blindness I scoffed at the idea of a completely sovereign Lord who had the power over his clay to mold vessels of honor and of dishonor. From my limited exposure to Reformed soteriology I instead envisioned God towering over a huge golden lottery bin, filled with the names of every living person. I could see the holy angels rotating the bin by hand, mixing up the names so all participants in the game of life get at least a million-to-one chance to win the ultimate prize: everlasting life. I imagined the Lord reaching his hand inside, looking the other way (as to not show preference) and drawing out the lucky names at random. In my vision He then decrees these souls saved for all eternity. The angels rejoice and the Holy Spirit hurries down to earth to let those lucky few know they had hit the jackpot.
Yes, I was sarcastic and unrelenting in my disdain against the slandering, blasphemous Calvinist view of the loving and kind God that I knew: or at least the God I thought I knew…

The truth is, I only recall meeting one person in those first years who called herself a Calvinist. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very gracious toward her. In my college days, a girl sat next to me in speech class. We got to know each other a bit and I discovered she proclaimed faith in Christ. We got along great – for a time. One day after class we were walking together and out of the blue she said:

“I’m a Calvinist, you know.”

I was aghast. I did not know real people actually bought into that nonsense. I looked at her incredulously, shook my head and said something like:

“Why on earth would you believe that garbage!”

I could tell I had offended her. She offered the vague but often used ‘trump card’ defense of ‘It’s what the bible teaches.’ I replied:

“Then why does the bible say that God wills for none to perish? If it’s in His complete power to save all, then why does he only choose a few in the end when it’s his will for all to be saved?”

Disappointingly, she offered no rebuttal, choosing instead to walk away quietly. Not surprisingly, she never spoke to me again. In retrospect, if she had vigorously defended her position with scriptures I may have come down this road much sooner than I did. Oh well. It wasn’t time, right? God is sovereign and he revealed this truth to me in his own time, in his own way. I am not complaining!

I have related the story of how my journey to the Reformed faith began here and here so I will not tread old ground. All I want to get across in this series is the why I crossed over to the dark side.

God revealed the Doctrines of Grace to me and it has been a mighty humbling experience. I tremble at my presumption for saying I never would serve a God that was completely sovereign over his creation. I now truly understand his Lordship and I am eternally grateful that He has chosen me, not arbitrarily, but also not according to anything I have done. He chose me for his good pleasure and purpose. I am grateful beyond words that He has provided me with an advocate, Jesus Christ, who cleanses me of all sin; even blasphemy spoke in ignorance. Only by his grace and mercy am I now a new creation in Christ, called to do His good works which he has prepared for me in advance to accomplish. I cherish his sovereignty over me and am thankful that all things are done for His glory alone.

In the next several posts I will reveal the main reasons I swallowed my pride and embraced the Doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace.

Read Part Two

Three Links in the Chain of Bondage


I have come to understand over the course of this past year what the true definition of bondage means when spoken of in a biblical sense. Bondage is a state of utter slavery to forces stronger than man’s will. Whatever a man is in bondage to, he is a slave to serve for all of his days. The state of bondage is so overwhelmingly powerful that escape from it is beyond hope. The scriptures teach man is in bondage under three separate and distinct systems. Continue reading

Does God Send People to Hell?


It’s been several months ago, but I distinctly remember having dinner one Friday evening over at a friend’s house with his family. Another recently married couple ate with us too. They all attend a different church than we do, but our beliefs had always been very similar – at least until I embraced the doctrines of grace. The differences in our theologies had become apparent, and somewhat troublesome to them. Despite their apprehension, I proclaimed the gospel truth as I understood it in an after dinner conversation. The wife of the recently married couple sat at rapt attention as I gave a brief overview of the doctrines of Grace. At one point I made a remark about God casting the reprobate into hell, whose sins have not been washed away by the blood of Jesus. She perked up, eyes wide, mouth agape and chimed in with this gem, “God doesn’t send people to hell!” Continue reading

Blessed Assurance Through Holiness


I gleaned the following snippets from the article ‘The Practical Implications of Calvinism’ by Albert N. Martin. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety.

Have you been brought to see your own corruption in sin in such a measure that the first two beatitudes are true of you?’ The only people in the world who are truly blessed are those who have been so wrought upon by the Spirit that they are not strangers to these two things: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted’. How does God make men truly blessed, truly happy? First of all, he makes them sad at the sight and sense of their own impoverishment in a state of sin. What is poverty of spirit? Is it some kind of pseudo-pietistic attempt to convince myself that I am a miserable worm and a wretch? Not at all! Poverty of spirit results from just getting a sight of what you really are, and seeing that you are nothing and have nothing and can do nothing that can commend yourself to the grace and saving favour of God; it results from the conviction that he could make you an eternal monument of his righteous wrath, and let you perish in the eternal burning.  Have you known an inner stripping that has brought you to poverty of spirit? to holy mourning? to the recognition that your sin has been against the Sovereign God? Have you been brought to the place where you hate your sin enough to forsake it and cleave only to Christ? Continue reading

Dying to Self – The Absurdity of Pride


Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mat 16:24-26)

In my toddler years as a believer I pondered the importance of the doctrine of dying to self. Why would Jesus demand such a radical position of people in order to follow him? Self isn’t all that bad. We make mistakes, but surely God doesn’t demand for us to throw away our inherent goodness in word, thought and deed in order to be called a true disciple of Christ. After all, God loves us just as we are, right? I puzzled over it for years without coming to any fruitful conclusions. I classified these verses as hyperbole. After I embraced the doctrines of Grace or Calvinism I came to fully understand man’s desperate natural condition. Man is radically corrupt in all his character and nature. Not one part of his being seeks to glorify God in any manner whatsoever.

I now realize why Jesus demanded self abandonment. Continue reading