This is the second part of our series on Calvinism, where we are beginning with addressing some of the misconceptions that accompany the system of theology. In the first part of our series we dealt with the misconception that Calvinism hinders biblical evangelism. Today we are going to address the misconception that “Calvinism denies that we as humans have free will and are nothing more than robots.”
Today, I begin a study in the doctrines of grace, or commonly known by many as the 5 points of Calvinism. Calvinism is a belief that encapsulates an understanding of soteriology (doctrine of salvation). Sadly, Calvinism is often completely misunderstood by many within Christianity that do not hold to its beliefs. It’s often caricatured by a host of statements that sound good on the surface to many Christians, but are quickly shown to be untrue.
One of the most common misconceptions about Calvinism is: “Since God’s sovereign over our salvation and elects those who will be saved, there’s no need to evangelize the lost.” Continue reading “Calvinism: Since God is Sovereign, Should We Evangelize the Lost?”
In the last few weeks there has been much said about race relations in our country. I recently preached a sermon entitled, “The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation.”
Some highlights are: Continue reading “The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation”
I recently wrote a post entitled, “Confronting Racism and Racial Injustice” that answers a much larger question than I’ll be dealing with here. Hopefully, it will give you some insight into my heart and mind as you read this. I want to address the issue of the Confederate flag and how a Christian should respond. Continue reading “The Confederate Flag and the Christian”
I don’t normally write or speak in church on these types of issues. However, with the sad and horrible events that have happened in the past months culminating in the shooting of 9 African-Americans. In a place that was chosen obviously because it was an extremely significant Church that has been a beacon for over a hundred years in the battle for racial justice. All of this, plus add to my frustration of the constant irritating and racist posts I see on social media regularly, I felt the need to speak up. In no way do I think I’ll answer every objection or question, but hopefully this will help some. Let me start with my own story. Continue reading “Confronting Racism & Racial Injustice”
Christians are hypocrites. First of all let me say to you these three words are absolutely true. These three words are also loaded with many thoughts and valid concerns from those outside of Christianity. I would also say these three words have been used as an excuse to dismiss altogether the claims and validity of Christ. They have also been used as an excuse for Christians to distance themselves from the Church.
Why do these three words have such heavy meaning and why do they carry such heavy criticism when levied against Christians? I believe they carry such weight because first they criticism is true and secondly, because those within and outside of Christianity have an extremely unbiblical view of the doctrine of sin. In other words, people at large do not realize how sinful, how truly wretched they are in the eyes of God.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 3:10-11, that there is NONE that does good, not even one! There is none that even seeks after God. In the following verses he goes to explain how wicked men truly are. This is the unsaved man. Jesus even refers to the religious leaders of his day as a brood of vipers. Tim Keller recently said that, “The Christian understanding of sin is much different than people think. I can’t preach a sermon or pray a prayer without sinning.”
I have no problem with the statement that Christians are hypocrites because we all are. The problem I have is the connotation behind the statement. That because Christians are hypocrites it invalidates the truth of the gospel and I can continue to reject God and live in my sin. As Mark Dever brilliantly put it, “Christians may be vipers like the rest of the world. The difference is, they know they are.” The unbeliever refuses to come to the realization that they are wicked and in need of grace. The only difference between Christians and the unbeliever is God’s grace has been given to the believer to know their need of forgiveness, repentance and a Savior. The need for an advocate, Jesus Christ to stand before God and say, “I have absorbed and taken all of the Father’s wrath for this viper, for this hypocrite. They have received in the place of wrath, My righteousness.” This doesn’t mean Christians are better, this doesn’t mean we do not sin anymore. It simply means that God in His grace has pardoned our sin and in it’s place we’ve been given the righteousness of God’s Son. The Christian then seeks to rely on grace in this life to live unto righteousness, until the day of ultimate redemption in heaven where we are freed forever from the bondage of sin. If you realize today that you are a viper in need of grace. Call out to God, repent and believe the gospel.
I was reading a blog post by a pastor and seminary graduate that I couldn’t like and agree with more. He gave 10 lessons that Seminary never taught him. As someone that was in ministry and then went back to seminary, I had a unique perspective and was able to see a lot of these things in myself when I left Bible College. The zeal of young can be a wonderful strength, but it can also bring with it, complete arrogance and downright stupidity, both of which I was guilty of early in ministry.
Jeff Robinson in his post gives these 10 things he never learned in ministry. I will just summarize them here and for a more detailed and really well written version please read his full version here.
1. Ministry is war
2. My fictional church, was a fictional church.
3. Theological knowledge, does not equal pastoral maturity
4. Love surpasses knowledge
5. If I will become a useful instrument in God’s hand I must suffer.
6. Because of my western definition of success is worldly, it will bother me when attendance is low or they don’t respond well to my teaching.
7. I will often exhibit an acute fear of man.
8. Many people in my church will not like me, no matter how much I love them or treat them with kindness.
9. I will often be mystified and frustrated that my ministerial labors do not yield “product.”
10. My theological heroes didn’t have it easy either.
- Showing the world who is a Christian and who is not. The clearer the line between Christian and non-Christian, the clearer the gospel will be.
- Demonstrating that the gospel is a life-transforming message. When a church is full of people who have been set free from slavery to sin and now are slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:15-23), it will show the world that the gospel really is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16), and that this salvation necessarily involves living a radically new life of holiness and obedience to God.
- Displaying the power of the gospel to unite people. When a church is composed of Christians who are united in faith and love, that church demonstrates that the gospel has power to unite people who would otherwise be divided. It also shows that the gospel is not limited to any ethnic or social group, but is rather a universally relevant message that calls all people to repent and offers eternal life to everyone who believes in Christ.
This is a great video from J.D Greear, Voodie Bauchman and Russell Moore via The Gospel Coalition that answer this question, “How can Homosexuality Be Wrong if it Doesn’t Harm Anyone?” It is definitely worth the 10 minutes to watch this clip.
How Can Homosexuality Be Wrong if It Doesn’t Harm Anyone? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.
If you are anything like me you enjoy a pithy quote that hits hard and makes you think. I recently came across a quote by Tim Keller that did exactly this. He states, “Racial pride and cultural narrowness cannot coexist with the gospel of grace. They are mutually exclusive.” When I read this so many thoughts flooded my mind. To get the full impact of what Pastor Keller is saying the quote needs to be defined and to some extent dissected.
Racial pride- To some extent the term race rubs me the wrong way, because it is not a term that is entirely biblical. It is more of a modern term to explain one’s ethnicity or ancestry. The term racial pride I would take to mean as a sense of arrogance or superiority in ones ethnicity over another’s. These attitudes are completely contrary to the scriptures. As a Christian, in 1 Peter 5:5 we are admonished to show humility toward one another and also reminded that God resists the proud. It also, inherently has a sense of finding one’s identity in their ethnicity.
Cultural Narrowness- This is a belief that one persons culture is the ONLY way something should be done. A silly example would be where I grew up, carbonated beverages are called pop and I stubbornly refuse to call it soda, coke, or worse compromise and call it soda pop or any other foolishness. Of course I say this in jest. This attitude can move from a small matter like what we call food or drink to how we respond to others who are different, or worse how we craft our churches to be only one culture. Neglecting the myriads of other cultures in our area that may identify with Christ.
Both of these are extremely troubling in our society and in our churches. The reason we call ourselves Christians is not because we are white anglo-saxon in heritage that was passed on from our Western European ancestors. We are called Christians because we are followers of Christ and IDENTIFY with His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for sin debt that by faith we through identifying with Christ are now IN Christ. We no longer identify with race or culture.
Gospel of Grace- The gospel of grace is the good news that God’s wrath against sin was poured out on His Son instead of me, and by God’s gift of faith, His grace and mercy is given so that I am given the life that Christ secured when rose victorious from the grave. This good news is not to a certain race, nation or even culture. Galatians 3:28 is clear, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, their is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is stating two important truths for our topic. Race and culture are not to be boasted in and that our identity is found in Christ.
If we are to carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations then Tim Keller’s quote must be truly thought through. The Apostle John writes of a vision where he hears a song being sang in heaven, where it is not merely one style of people but literally ALL groups before God. Revelation 5:9-10, “And they sang a new song, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth.”
May we have the heart of Christ and take part in the ministry of reconciliation to see this ransomed people from every tribe and language and people and nation come to their Lord and see them grow in the gospel of grace.