Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD BIBLE STUDIES STUDY EIGHT

BY COLIN MAXWELL

The Outworking of the Doctrines of Grace:

So far we have examined the Doctrines of Grace. It would be very easy to leave them lying coldly on the pages of a theological study. If this is all we have done…then we have failed to grasp God's message to our hearts. In this study, we will examine the effect which the Doctrines of Grace have on 4 key areas.

  1. CALVINISM AND HOLINESS:

    It is a charge of the enemies of these doctrines that they lead to licentiousness and ungodly living. No doubt such doctrines have been abused -natural man always turns the blessing of God into a curse. No doubt, there are those who teach that you can well nigh live as you please and because you are either saved or lost by the eternal decree of God, then your conduct has no bearing on your eternal destiny. These are they who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4) but their illegitimate religion cannot be fathered on the doctrine of God.

    A) What do the following verses say we were predestined and elected in order to be?

    Ephesians 1:4

    Romans 8:29

    B) Some of the most noted godly men - who praise is still in the churches - passionately believed the doctrines of grace. Robert Murray McCheyne comes immediately to mind. The man they called Holy Bradford is another. Those societies where these doctrines held sway were noted for their distinct absence of any serious crime. McFetridge said of the American Puritans (Calvinists):

    Amongst all the people in the American Colonies, they stood morally without peers. They were men and women of conscience, of sterling convictions… They were industrious, frugal and enterprising, and consequently affluence followed in their path and descended to their children and children's children. Drunkenness, profanity and beggary were things little known to them. They needed neither lock nor burglar proof to secure their honestly gotten possessions. The simple wooden bolt was enough to protect them and their wealth where honesty was the rule of life. (Calvinism in History: p.8)

    C) There is no reason why the doctrines of God's decree or perseverance of the saints should lead to ungodly living. When the truth of such wonderful evidences of God's grace is revealed to the heart…the proper response is that of gratitude to God as seen in Luke 7:41-43

  2. CALVINISM AND ASSURANCE OF SALVATION:

    Again, it is often charged that Calvinism robs men of the assurance of salvation. Since the number of the elect is immutably fixed and cannot be increased or diminished - how can any one know for certain that he is among the elect of God? Easily answered:

    A) Christians from all different theological persuasions lose assurance of salvation. Not just Calvinists. We might challenge what right has any Christian whose doctrine teaches him that he played some part in his coming to Christ have any assurance? If we can will ourselves into Christ…surely we can just as easily will ourselves out of Christ?

    B) Bible teaches we can make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10) We cannot call or elect ourselves…but we can confirm what God has done and rejoice in it.

    C) Simple way to have assurance (under God: Romans 8:15/Galatians 4:6) is simply to come to Christ and lay hold by faith on that great promise: Romans 10:13. If I come to Christ…then I am truly elect for only the elect come and are never - then or later - cast out (John 6:37)

    See later study on hyper Calvinism for further discussion.

  3. CALVINISM AND PRAYER:

It is also contended that Calvinists do not believe in prayer meetings etc., because if God has already decreed whatever comes to pass…why bother asking for it. God will perform His good will whether you ask or not. Utter rubbish!

A) Calvinists believe that God has ordained the means as well as the end. We pray because God has commanded it, especially that petition that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Luke 11:2) Why did the Lord Jesus get us to so pray if God's will cannot know frustration - as taught by Daniel 4:35? Ans:- Because he has ordained the means as well as the end. Even though God knows the things we have need of before we ask - He would still have us ask (Matthew 6:8ff)

B) Daniel, who believed in the absolute sovereignty of God (4:25/35), observed from reading the Bible that God "would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem" (9:1-2) Definite. This but spurred Daniel on to prayer (9:3) because he had every confidence that God would answer his prayer. True prayer is always founded on faith and that faith is in God's word. God is not playing word games.

4) CALVINISM AND EVANGELISM:

See next study.

STUDY NINE: CALVINISM AND EVANGELISM

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