I think I want this.

I’m not a fan of so-called Christian apparel, including t-shirts that often feature banal pop culture references or trite aphorisms that are meant to do all the ‘witnessing’ of the gospel for us.  But this struck me as funny.

Not sure why I’m amused though, because it’s absolutely true.  It’s a humble reminder that the only contribution to my salvation by God’s grace is my great sin.

HT: Nola’s Devotionals

My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace – Part 4

Note: This is a continuation of a series I began in mid-2007. Sorry for the long delay. If you haven’t read any of the posts in the series you can start HERE.

Precisely two-and-a-half years ago, I began embracing the doctrines of Grace (also called 5-point Calvinism). It was a chaotic time, where both the deconstruction of my old theology and the construction of this new theology were taking place simultaneously in my mind and spirit. To complicate matters, an old friend, who had faithfully attended my now defunct weekly bible study for college students, came to my office one day and begged me to start up a new study group. She had come to a difficult point in her life and had a deep hunger for someone to bring her the Word. I had sympathy for her, but didn’t feel I was in any position to teach.

First, I could no longer teach much of what I had in the past. Many of those doctrines, like a house built on shifting sand, laid in a collapsed heap. I was in the process of bulldozing those aberrant beliefs right off my intellectual property. Second, I still did not know enough about Calvinism to be confident enough to teach it. Third, I still had not resolved all the points of Calvinism in my heart and mind yet. I readily accepted the T, the U, and the I but I wasn’t so sure about the L and the P. Odd, I know, if the U then the P should follow, right? I’ve never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer!

Anyway, against my better judgment, I plunged ahead with the study and presented my understanding of sovereign salvation to that small audience. It all worked out for the good, though. The class constantly presented challenges that helped to sharpen me. In the end though, only one person from the group came to believe in the doctrines of Grace. She came to visit me in my office one afternoon last year and I asked her pointedly, “have you become convinced that the doctrines of Grace are true?” My friend gave me an unforgettable reply. In a humble and almost broken-hearted tone, she said, “Yes it has to be true, because I know my own heart.” Continue reading

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

Tiptoeing Through the TULIP: The Importance of the Doctrine of Radical Corruption – Part 2

In part 1 we learned the importance of teaching the doctrine of Radical Corruption is in bringing us to realize we cannot please God in our natural state. All attempts to do so should immediately be abandoned. it is utterly futile. Our offenses against God cannot be overcome by the counterweight of good deeds, no matter how impressive. Our sin is always before us. The wages thereof is death.

In light of this reality,

Radical Corruption teaches man to forsake his works and cling to the work of Christ.

Christ lived a perfectly sinless life. He was the spotless lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for all sins for all time. The shedding of his blood on the cross remits the sins of all who come to him. His bodily resurrection assures the bodily resurrection of all who are called by his name. The burden and curse of the law upon us is taken off our backs and laid upon Jesus Christ. In return it pleased the Father to impute (or transfer) the righteousness of Christ to us, so that at the judgment on the last day, all God will see is the work of Christ on our behalf and not the sins we have committed against him. The gavel of God’s decree will strike a thunderous blow, echoing across the cosmos, proclaiming the justification freely given us by God’s good grace.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Rom 10:3-4) Continue reading

Tiptoeing Through the TULIP: The Importance of the Doctrine of Radical Corruption – Part 1

We live in a truly miraculous day and age. Here in America, life has been made easier (but more complex) by the combination of great advances in technology and fertile imaginations. Cell phones enable us to contact anybody just about anywhere at any given time. Notebook computers can wirelessly access the internet from just about any location imaginable. The internet itself has become the world’s knowledge-base. There is no subject that cannot be thoroughly mined by simply ‘Googling’ it. Oh how I wish the internet had been around when I was in school. I actually had to go into a library and read books! Life is good. Life is accessible. Life is easier than at any time in history. But as Paul Simon once sang, ‘These are the days of miracle and wonder. Don’t cry baby, don’t cry.’ Continue reading

Tiptoeing Through the TULIP: Radical Corruption – Part 2

In part one we established that man is:

A. A fallen creature
B. A bondservant to the Devil
C. A sinner not only in action but in nature. Man sins because he is a sinner, not a sinner because he sins.

We ended Part 1 with the question, Does man naturally have the desire to turn from his sin in sorrowful repentance and exercise the kind of faith that saves the soul from God’s Holy wrath?

It’s a good question, deserving of a scriptural answer. But first, let’s take a look at man’s ability to attain God’s righteousness through the keeping of the law. Continue reading

Tiptoeing Through the TULIP: Radical Corruption – Part 1

The Fall of Man
On the sixth day of creation, God breathed life into man, the pinnacle of His handiwork. He beheld the earth with all the life therein and proclaimed it to be very good. (Gen 1:31) The earth was a paradise, a work of perfection. God gave man dominion over his creation. He had three simple laws for Adam and Eve to obey. They were to be fruitful and multiply. They were also forbidden to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned:

for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. (Gen 2:17).

However, man proved unfaithful to God’s law. Satan, that ancient serpent, beguiled Eve into eating the fruit of that tree. She then shared it with Adam, who had done nothing to prevent her fateful decision.

God’s judgment came swiftly with great severity. He remained true to his word. In that day death came into the world through sin. Adam and Eve did not die physically that day. In fact, they both would live for many centuries following the incident.

So, in what way did they die in the day they ate of the tree? Continue reading

Tiptoeing Through the TULIP: Introduction

This upcoming series of posts are for anyone new to the doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace, or Calvinism, (although I’m not fond of that moniker at all, but it is easier to type). Calvinism (yes, I’m lazy) has been succinctly, but incompletely defined by the TULIP acrostic. Contrary to popular belief, the renowned theologian John Calvin did not formulate TULIP. It was created in response to the Five Points of Arminianism many years after Calvin’s death. I suppose Calvin is associated with TULIP and the belief system it represents because he so clearly articulated the doctrines in his own extensive writings. Continue reading