The Hopefulness of Calvinism...

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Monergist, May 9, 2002.

  1. Monergist

    Monergist
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    …or better stated, “The Hopefulness of Trusting in a Sovereign God.”

    I’m starting a new thread with this because that other thread has produced considerably more heat than light. Most of the arguments there against biblical Calvinism (not hyper-calvinism) would stand if we did not have a God who is just, holy, altogether righteous, glorious, loving, perfect in every way, infinite, pure, incomprehensible, almighty, free to order all things after the counsel of His will, most wise, patient, eternal, all knowing, merciful, abundant in goodness and truth, gracious, absolute, all sufficient, omnipotent, and the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. View our objections in light of these attributes, and even our limited understanding shows the puniness of these objections as we protest, “That’s not fair.” My advice to those who would object to what God has clearly stated is this; take your eyes for a moment off yourself, and look for a moment to the Author and Finisher of our faith. To continue to object based on our fallen understanding is, to quote one old Puritan, to be” better skilled in tying knots, than in unloosing any.”

    All these assume the sovereignty of God over all His creation and the will of His creatures:

    · We can hope because God sovereignly determines the circumstances of our lives

    · We can hope in that no plan of God can ever be thwarted

    · We can hope that no one or nothing can harm us apart from God’s will

    · We can hope that God sovereignly controls the forces of nature

    · We can hope that when disaster or tragedy comes that God is in control

    · We can hope that it is God working in us to effect salvation

    · We can hope that in our giving all the glory to God alone, we are not transgressing His disallowing of giving glory to any other (including ourselves or any person who may have “led” us to Christ)

    · We can hope in that while God knew us as sinners and reprobates, He saved us not on the basis of good in us, or anything that we did, but according to His grace and mercy

    · We can hope in knowing the certainty of fruitfulness of the gospel message

    · We can hope that God has appointed the means to accomplish His purpose

    · We can hope that when we proclaim salvation that God will save

    · We can hope because God is able to do what we cannot

    · We can hope in that God preserves us and keeps us from stumbling

    · We can hope that God calls all He predestined, justifies all He calls, and glorifies all that He justifies

    · We can hope that nothing can separate the elect of God from His love

    · We can hope that God may allow evil toward us, yet use it for good

    · We can hope that God will honor the preaching of His Word

    · We can hope that God can break the hardest of hearts and save the chief of sinners

    · We can hope that God will thwart our plans and efforts when they go contrary to His will

    · We can hope that God will prosper our plans and efforts when they are consistent with His will

    · We can hope that God can make even our enemies to be at peace with us

    · We can hope that God controls the hearts and intents of the most powerful people

    · We can hope when we give our money, time, and resources to the church and His work, since Christ stated that He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it

    · We can hope when our best efforts seem futile and unproductive

    · We can hope that God will accomplish His sovereign will even when we make bad decisions and blunders

    · We can hope when we pray for the lost (non-calvinists cannot effectively pray for God to save someone without sacrificing that person’s will to choose. We can pray for God to save, apart from their will)

    · We can hope in our sufferings, that they are for our good and God’s glory

    · We can hope in the fact that God is not bothered by what non-calvinists see as contradictions in His scripture (ex. Philippians 2:12-13)

    (Though I haven’t quoted directly, most of the thought here came from the excellent book “Still Sovereign” by Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware, particularly the last three chapters, written by Jerry Bridges, Samuel Storms, and Edmund Clowney).
     
  2. Kiffin

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    AMEN!!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Ray Berrian

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    If God is absolutely sovereign in all things, you won't have to hope about anything--He will do and does always what pleases Himself. Personally, I believe this is overstepping what God has told us in His Word.

    Ray
     
  4. cor_unam

    cor_unam
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    Can you explain this better please or rephrase it? I'm having a hard time understanding this:
    Also:
    How is it possible with a soveriegn God to do or plan or make efforts AGAINST His will. If I understand Calvinism rightly (which may or may not be true)... God is the supreme power and ALL things are under HIS control... He WILLS all things right? Well in light of this, I don't understand how it can be said that God will "thwart our plans and efforts when they go contrary to His will"? How can ANYTHING go contrary to God's will in the traditional clavinistic understanding of "The Soveriegnity of God?"

    Thank you for clearing my misunderstanding up.
     
  5. Monergist

    Monergist
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    Also:</font>[/QUOTE]
    From The Pleasures of God by John Piper

    </font>[/QUOTE]James 4:13-16 (ESV)
    Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— [14] yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. [15] Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." [16] As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

    edited for spelling

    [ May 09, 2002, 08:50 PM: Message edited by: TimothyW ]
     
  6. Monergist

    Monergist
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    What better hope could we have? ;)
     
  7. cor_unam

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    Timothy, forgive my blockheadedness, by I still don't understand about what you said with the "thwarting our efforts thing." I'm familiar with that Bible passage and how it talks about "if God wills." But how does that apply to what I asked. Namely, if God wills EVERYTHING, how can we say that we are physically ABLE to plan or have efforts NOT in line with His will.

    Also, I notice that Calvinists create an unnecessary dichotomy between the "Soveriegnity of God." and the "Ultimate self-determination of man." Is it fair to say that Calvinists don't believe in a middle ground here? As a Catholic, we hold free will and the sovereignity of God not as an EITHER/OR situation... but that both exist in a mysterious paradox and do not cancel each other out.
     
  8. Chris Temple

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    Double AMEN Timothy!
     
  9. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
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    [​IMG]

    Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)
    remember the former things of old;
    for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
    [10] declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
    saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
    [11] calling a bird of prey from the east,
    the man of my counsel from a far country.
    I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
    I have purposed, and I will do it.
     
  10. Monergist

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    Biblical calvinism is not fatalism; it does not make us out to be some kind of mechanical puppet or robot.

    Paul understood this. He wished to go to Rome, and had plans to go sometime, but he also realized that the fulfillment of those plans depended on God's will.
    Romans 15:20-22 (ESV)
    and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, [21] but as it is written,
    "Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand."
    [22] This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.

    Paul had been given a specific purpose by God, i.e., God had sovereignly determined where and to whom Paul was to minister.

    Acts 9:15 (ESV)
    But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

    And here God obviously allowed Paul to make plans which he thwarted:

    Acts 16:6-10 (ESV)
    And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. [7] And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. [8] So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. [9] And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." [10] And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

    The result of God's intervention was the gospel message going west rather than east, which resulted the west being "Christian-ized" for the last 2000 years, and much of the east remaining in darkness.

    There are many passages that illustrate these points. We can hope-- in that if we make plans that are not in accordance with God's will, that He will providentially make neccessary corrections that will align our efforts with His purpose.
     
  11. Nelson

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    I have not read the previous board messages you are alluding to but if one is objecting to Calvinism based on their fallen nature, the Calvinist is explicating their form of doctrine based on that same fallen nature; for are we not all - Calvinist and their objectors alike - sinners with a fallen nature? If so, then a Calvinist can be just as proficient in tying knots as, it is claimed, do other Christians of different theological persuasions.
     
  12. Siegfried

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    Well said. I couldn't agree with that statement more, even though I know you don't believe it. Hope in man is uncertain, but hope in God is certain.

    That's not Calvinism. That's BIBLE. Don't believe it? Read the passages below, especially the ones from Titus.

    For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. Ps. 38:15

    Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:1 (identical verses)

    For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. Ps. 71:5

    Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Ps. 146:5

    But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. Acts 24:14-15

    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom lso we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Rom. 5:1-5

    Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Rom. 15:13

    Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. 2Thess 2:16-17

    Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 1 Tim. 1:1

    In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; Tit. 1:2

    Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Tit. 2:13

    That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Heb. 6:18

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. . . Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Pet. 1:3, 21
     
  13. Siegfried

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    Great emoticon, Chris. I feel your pain.
     
  14. Nelson

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    I can hope - for one reason and one reason is all that is necessary irrespective of the fact that I do not hold and object to the Reformed/Calvinistic tradition - because Jesus Christ died on the Cross for me. Apart from that confession of hope, all other hopes, however grand and inspiring, are vain.
     
  15. pinoybaptist

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    I read this in one of the Christian websites I visit and probably best illustrates to some degree the sovereignty of God. It is not verbatim, though, as I am simply trying to recall this with my diabetic brain:


    A condemned man's mother once came to Napoleon Bonaparte and pleaded with the Emperor for her son's life to be spared. The man had been found guilty of murder and was condemned to be executed.
    The Emperor exclaimed: "Woman, your son is guilty
    and deserves no mercy at all !".
    The woman replied:
    "That is why I plead for mercy, your Excellency, for if he were innocent, he does not need mercy."
    The Emperor thought of it and said,"Alright, then, I will be merciful. Your son shall live."


    Mercy is the act of forgiveness bestowed upon a crime deserving of punishment. Grace is the source of that mercy. One can argue it is the other way around, it doesn't really matter.

    How does this anecdote reflect on the sovereignty of God ?
    Napoleon was a sovereign. He ruled. He was accountable to nobody. It was well within his prerogatives to exercise, or refuse, mercy.
    He bestowed mercy on a criminal.
    But his having done so does not bind him to bestow mercy on all. For his rule had laws, and the law was broken.
    But that is where the parallel ends.
    Napoleon bypassed his rule's laws and its penalties for violation.
    God did not overlook the law. He demanded the punishment for its violation. He extracted that punishment from His only begotten Son.
    All men from Adam stand guilty and condemned under the law, and He chose to exercise mercy on some of the condemned.
    He had the Sovereign right to do that.
    But He is not bound by His mercy to free all violators.
    Man is not " to be condemned ". Man is condemned. Found guilty. God freed some from the condemnation. He is not obliged to free all.
     
  16. Kiffin

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    You just made a good Calvinist statement unknown to you. For all who know Christ as Lord and Savior in the Calvinist view, we know and state that Jesus died specifically for me as an individual and that when He was on the Cross I was on His mind as an individual. For the Non Calvinist, Christ death secured the salvation of none but just made salvation a possibilty. It is up to the individual to make Christ death effective for their Salvation in the Non Calvinist scheme by their free will.

    For the Calvinist though we know he loved me before time began, died on the cross for me before I was even a thought to anyone else and applied His blood to me at Conversion!
     
  17. Nelson

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    And that is what makes us one, not agreement on doctrine but the blood of Christ. As long as the mercy of God in Christ is the basis of our theological considerations (not God's sovereignty, as important as it may be), my statement will hold true for both sides.

    However, though I won't argue the point Kiffin made regarding the "Non Calvinist" scheme of salvation (and I do not speak for them), it is not representative, explicitly and implicitly, of my interpretation of Biblical salvation.

    On my part, I see that the difference can be stated thus (hoping no offence is taken as it is not intended): it is the difference between God loving a robot and God loving a human.
     
  18. tyndale1946

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    Kiffin said:
    Does a Calvinist really believe that? If that is so what do you do with the scripture refering to Peter when thou are converted strengthen the brethren. Don't the scriptures teach that we are quickened and the term used is regeneration not conversion according to Ephesians 2:1? Preacher I know you don't believe the blood was applied at conversion do you? If you do Peter wasn't saved until he was converted and that is unsound doctrine... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  19. Kiffin

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    Bro. Glen,

    We read in, Acts 3:19

    Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

    Regarding Peter, Jesus said to him,

    31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

    John Gill on this verse stated,
    Peter was now a converted man, and had been for some years; but whereas he would fall by temptation into a very great sin of denying his Lord, and which was attended with such circumstances as made him look like an unconverted, and an unregenerate man; his recovery by the fresh exercise of faith in Christ, and repentance for his sins, is called conversion: and which was not his own act, but owing to the power and efficacy of divine grace; see (Jeremiah 31:18) . Some versions render it in the imperative, "in time, convert, turn, or return, and strengthen thy brethren"

    The more literal translations confirm Gill's exposition would read,

    but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."(NASB)

    and I besought for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and thou, when thou didst turn, strengthen thy brethren.' (YOUNG'S LITERAL TRANSLATION)

    But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.(AMPLIFIED)

    So in context Jesus is not talking to Peter regarding the way the term is used in Acts 3 which is referring to being born again which the KJV translation makes it appear. He is referring to Peter's repentance after his denial of Him.

    In Acts 3 Conversion and Regeneration are linked. Regeneration produces this Conversion to Christ. Until the elect is Converted or Regenerated (Whichever term you refer to use) they are lost and unjustified before God. It is not until one is born again that they have Christ righteosness imputed to them.
     
  20. Kiffin

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    Nelson,

    No offense is taken in that you continue to show a Christian attitude in your debating [​IMG]

    Calvinists do not see ourselves as robots but really goes to the belief of total depravity. In believing free will one cannot believe one is in total bondage to Satan. Calvinist affirm that the only way to be released from this bondage is not man's will but by God's sovereign grace.

    I live not far from Angola state prison in La. Those men are in physical bondage and have no free will to get them out. A lost person is in in spiritual bondage in a worse way and have no free will to get them out and really they love their bondage.

    In our Church's Easter evangelism campaign 2 months ago I did not see people as we went door to door willing to come to Christ but happy in their bondage. Thankfully however God does regenerate and bring some people(his elect) to spiritual life and faith in Him.
     

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