from free-will to sovereign grace... a bad thing?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by j_barner2000, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. j_barner2000

    j_barner2000
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2003
    Messages:
    888
    Likes Received:
    0
    In 4 years of pastoring the same church and studying through Romans, Ephesians, Galations and some personal study, I have come to the conclusion that man by himself is incapable of developing saving faith in his own heart. Faith is a gift from God.

    When I first came to this church, I was not asked where I stood on this topic. I used to believe that man could choose to turn to God on their own volition. Now, however, I am convinced I was incorrect. God, by His choice, saves us. He does not wait for us to decide for Him, but decided long ago whom He would save.

    I have had comments that I hid that I was Calvinistic from the start. Most of the members have observed the struggle I have been involved in for 6 years over this issue. (Yes I was dealing this issue when I came here.)

    This is beginning to create some small issue and I want it dealt with before it gets way out of hand....

    How do i work this one out?
     
    #1 j_barner2000, Oct 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2008
  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    29,402
    Likes Received:
    12
    Continue to teach the word of God. The false doctrine of "man's sovereignty" (semi-pelagian heresy espoused by ignorant men) is GROWING in the hearts and minds of those who do NOT understand the whole counsel of God and see HIM as the only sovereign.

    Maybe some individal, small group studies thru the ancient Baptist beliefs (like the 1644/1689 London Baptist confessions; Spurgeon; AW Pink's "Soverignty of God") would help.

    And some will not submit. THEY want to "do" something, since works salvation is just as prevalent in Baptist circles as in Catholic - just different works.

    And be patient. God's truth took YOU 4 years on a journey of understanding and may take most in a church more time! Don't hammer 52 sunday messages on Particular Redemption (even though Spurgeon did) but go slowly, shining light on the matter.

    Let GOD do the changing.
     
  3. Jim1999

    Jim1999
    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    15,460
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a simple way of understanding the absolute sovereignty of God and man's free-will. We draw two circles, one outside the other. The outer circle is labelled the absolute sovereignty of God. The inner circle under sovereignty is labelled God's permissive will. Under sovereignty He allows man to make choices, but even these choices are subject to the absolute sovereignty of God. In plain words it is "thus far and no further..."

    This aligns with the fact that Adam (man) was created a free spirit. This aspect was lost in the fall, but he remained a thinking person. The permissive will of God allows this activity. It regards man's thought processes, but is removed frm the redemptive act which is God's sole activity.

    Hope this helps, at least from a theological viewpoint.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. Allan

    Allan
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2006
    Messages:
    6,888
    Likes Received:
    0
    This isn't something that is Calvinistic but is espoused by Non-Cals the world over.

    What you just presented is known as Pelagianism. That man, apart from any influence or grace of God, can of and by himself believe - thus save himself.

    This is a false teaching that is attacked even by the non-cals because it is un-biblical.

    Semi-Pel is much the same with the only difference being that once man, apart from any divine influence or grace, comes to God but then they realize that man can not do anything that will save him. Thus God rewards man for his effort to come by giving him grace and saves him.

    No man can come to faith in God without grace and divine influence and this is a gift from God (and yes this includes that we will/can even believe because of Him). Though faith itself is not a gift in the sense that God had to give man faith in order to believe. (example: like giving a child a bike because they never had one) What always gets me is that in the Cal position they state that before a person can believe they must first be regenerate (wont get into that at present). It is in this where I personally see a problem. That being regenerate or made new, you are now in Christ and justified and sanctified (before you place any faith in Christ), your natural faith is apparently not regenerated even though you desire and long to believe. That God must give you some new kind of faith in order to believe Him. Regardless of the fact you have been regenerated and all things have become new (or brought back to their intended original state) He still has to 'give' you faith. It makes no sense to me.. OK, personal view aside -

    Anyway.. I would state that if you are going one way and the Church does not agree with you, seek another church IF the doctrines are greatly divergent. If the church hold one view and has agreed that this what they understand and that they called you assuming you held to the same beliefs, it is only proper to move along if your views have changed. I'm not saying it has changed for the better or worse but in the fact they called you based upon like beliefs and faith is that not a proper thing to do. Why stay?\

    However, I might ask then to consider this. Give you one month or two or whatever, and allow you to preach what you see the scripture saying and have them go home an study it for themselves. If at the end of that time they still do not agree then state that you will step aside. But if there are those who do see scripture after that same manner maybe give you a little more time as pastor to see what the Lord does. It is only a suggustion and I do feel for you brother. No matter our soterlogical views keep that faith which God has revealed and know that He is God and able to bring you to that which is in accordance with His will.
     
    #4 Allan, Oct 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2008
  5. Bob House

    Bob House
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Brother, many of us have been on the same journey. I was an assistant pastor when I came to this understanding, and remained at my place of ministry for a time, but not for long! On the other hand, as the pastor, your job is to rightly proclaim the word of truth.

    You will certainly need to seek God's wisdom in this matter, but my basic advice to you would be to just preach the Word! People cannot argue with what the Bible says. If you begin using "theological terms" from the pulpit (calvinism, arminianism, monergism, compatibilism, etc.), you will confuse the issue. But if you just preach what the Bible says, you can't go wrong! The church that I am pastoring now is a "sovereign grace" baptist church, where the congregation is convinced of this issue. However, one of the men in the church was raised in a southern baptist background. When I first candidated at the church, he called me, and "warned" me about the beliefs of the church regarding predestination, etc. I told him that I just believed the Bible, and quoted some appropriate scriptures. He had no problem with what I said.

    Since then, I'm not sure if he's totally convinced, but he has never had a problem with anything I've preached (to my knowledge). Preach the Bible, and you'll be safe!
     
  6. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you have changed your view about salvation since you became the pastor of this church, you have a duty to be forthright with your congregation and tell them that you have changed. Once you do this, several things could happen:

    They may agree to listen to your argument and your reasons for changing.

    They may tell you to take a hike without listening at all.

    They may be persuaded by your arguments and reasons and want you to stay.

    They may reject your arguments and reasons and tell you to leave.

    Whatever the consequences, right or wrong on their part, you owe them honesty and forthrightness.
     
  7. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    One more thought:

    What does the church constitution say about the matter of soteriology? Does your new position agree with the constitution? Does it disagree? Is the constitution so vague that a pastor could hold one of several positions and still be in agreement?

    If your position agrees, I don't think you have a problem.

    If your position disagrees, see my previous post.

    If the constitution is vague, then you have to make a judgement call. Are you changing what has been traditionally held by the members even though they have not stated it clearly? If you are going against the traditional belief you must NOT divide the church over the matter.
     
  8. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    I really don't like "from free will to sovereign grace", as they are not polar opposites. I believe in free will AND God's sovereign grace. It is almost like an undercutting disparaging remark that those who hold to free will cannot believe in "sovereign grace". Call calvinism what it is...determinism.
     
  9. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    While I believe he should be honest about his new found soteriology, I don't think it has to end in either the congregation compromising their beliefs, or the pastor leaving. If biblical truth is not compromised (salvation by grace alone through faith alone), both stances can remain, as it the disagreement in how one arrives at the Truth, not the Truth itself.
     
    #9 webdog, Oct 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2008
  10. j_barner2000

    j_barner2000
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2003
    Messages:
    888
    Likes Received:
    0
    I will continue to teach the Biblical passages in a verse by verse exegetical fashion. The congregation has not objected to what I am learning. It is another pastor in the area who has the problem. I have decided to let God continue to deal with both of us as the Holy Spirit leads us in the study of His Word. I still have much to learn as do all Christians.

    Thank you all for your responses.
     
  11. J.D.

    J.D.
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    Messages:
    3,553
    Likes Received:
    8
    You should get the book "A Journey in Grace" by Richard Belcher. A novel that roughly mirror's Belcher's own experience of the same you are having.
     
  12. Rippon

    Rippon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Messages:
    17,403
    Likes Received:
    328
    Dr.Richard Belcher's books are valuable.I have 7 of his Journey series.And there are 7 that I need to get.

    His books regarding A.W.Pink are fascinating :Predestination,Born To Write,Letters Of An Itinerant Preacher,and Letters From Spartanburg.

    Plus I have some of Belcher's theological works (they're slim folks).
     
  13. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is wise counsel. As a layman who is also a Calvinist, let me offer some anecdotal observations.

    First, the pastor doesn't have to start out with Calvinism. Start with the basics, beginning with the nature and attributes of God, and his sovereignty. Groundwork must be laid.

    Teaching about God's immutability is helpful. It has enormous implications. It means what what God decides today, he decided from eternity. What God knows today, he has always known. To paraphrase a pastor-friend of mine, "Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurs to God?"

    The risk of alienating the congregation may be overstated, depending on the church. I suspect the majority of the members of any church have never given the issue much thought. They know vaguely about predestinatioin, but have never really thought it through. For many, this will be new stuff, not just a Calvinist view of predestination.

    Watch your language. That is, the terminology you use in your preaching and calling men to Christ. It'll be different from the non-Cals' language and methodology.

    The first time you close your services without an invitation, be prepared to get questions. This has never been done before. How do people get saved, they'll ask, if you don't have an invitation. This is a teachable moment.

    Just a few suggestions from a layman whose Calvinism is in the minority in my church, but reasonably well tolerated, and is not a source of conflict.
     
  14. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why is this?
     
  15. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    webdog, my suggestion for the pastor to watch his language is not an attempt to mask Calvinistic teachings. It is to make the terminology more consistent with reformed theology.

    For instance, out of my non-Cal Southern Baptist background, I heard:

    I realized that I was a sinner.
    I got saved.
    I walked the aisle.
    I accepted Jesus as my Savior>
    I invited Christ into my life.
    I made the change.
    I took Jesus as my Savior, you take him, too. (Remember the chorus, "Do Lord"?
    I made a decision for Christ.

    Contrast with:

    The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin.
    The Holy Spirit opened my understanding.
    The Holy Spirit opened my heart.
    God saved me.
    Jesus saved me.
    The Holy Spirit brought me (or drew me) to repentance and faith.
    The Lord extended his grace to me.
    He brought my feet out of the miry clay (from a hymn whose name I can't remember).

    Now are any of the first statements false? Nope. One who "got saved" is no less saved than one whom "God saved."

    But there is a difference, isn't there, between the two groups of sentences.
     
  16. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Regarding methodology, I refer mainly to the use of invitations and altar calls.

    Non-Cals regard them as sacred and essential to ending a service.

    Many Cals do not give invitations.

    Those who do adopt a different approach to the exhortation. Some will simply open the doors of the church for those who which to publicly confess Christ, move their membership, etc. They will usually invite someone to stay after the service if they wish to be saved.

    Cal or non-Cal, we ought to be consistent with what we believe the scriptures to teach, in our presentation of the gospel, our exhortation, our terminology. And we ought to always measure it against either Biblical teaching or example.
     
  17. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't really see a difference, as there is no "I" without the Holy Spirit intervening first. I think both lists are two sides of the same coin, and do not contrast at all.
     
  18. Reformer

    Reformer
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    0

    One system (and set of statements) reveals the Synergism in it.

    The others remain Monergistic.

    The difference is still the I, Synergism still has it, it may follow something else, but it is still there.
    Monergism is completely void of the I did syndrome.

    HUGE differences that the typical Monergist views (even when subtly implied) as compromising the truths of Scripture.


    Forgive me for going off topic.
    j_barner2000, I hope you and your congregation the best, continue to rightly divide the word......no matter what may come.

    May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

    Bowing out
    Reformer
     
  19. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Only problem, the Bible doesn't teach monergism solely. Salvation is both monergistic (God decided to give the Gift, to whom, and how it is to be received) and synergistic (requiring us to do nothing but accept it). This is clear from a plain reading of Scripture.
     
  20. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    j_barner, I embraced the Doctrines of Grace more than 35 years ago, but neglected to change my terminology to reflect my change in theology.

    One Sunday, I had selected a congregational song "A New Name Written Down in Glory." One of my choir members took me aside and asked me, "do you really believe that?"

    From that point, I began to exercise more care in the selection of hymns, and of the choir music.

    Then, about 11 years ago, during a mission trip to Romania, conversations with a Romanian pastor led me to re-evaluate all that I do in presenting the gospel--even the terminology and methodology that I used. My goal was to test it against scripture.

    Such re-thinking led me to question the use of the Sinner's Prayer (or at least the abuse), and such terms as "walking the aisle," "going to the altar" (which is exactly where in a NT church?), and the like.

    So I reiterate the point of earlier posts. Since you're 4 years into this transformation, just make sure the way you present the gospel is consistent with what you believe the scripture teaches.

    webdog sees no contrast in the lists I posted. To the extent that they say the same thing in a different way, I can agree. But there is a difference in emphasis, and there the contrast is obvious.
     

Share This Page

Loading...