Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD BIBLE STUDIES STUDY NINE
BY COLIN MAXWELL
THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE, EVANGELISM AND HYPER CALVINISM:
In the last study, we looked at the affect which the Doctrines of Grace have on holiness, assurance of salvation, and prayer. We answered our critics that Calvinism is a destructive force in these areas. In this study, we will look at the subject of Calvinism and evangelism and its associate subject of hyper Calvinism. This is the last study in this present series.
CALVINISM AND EVANGELISM:
A charge often made is that Calvinism deadens evangelistic zeal. Calvinists are painted as men who sit back and let the world go to hell, knowing that God will bring in His own elect whether they evangelise or not. This is actually a caricature of Biblical Calvinism. I personally have been confronted with this charge while engaging in indiscriminate tract distribution. It never seemed to dawn on my accuser that my activity as he was actually speaking to me belied his accusation.
A) SOME OF THE GREATEST EVANGELISTS WERE CALVINISTS:
Think of the great preachers who saw revival. Names like Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Daniel Rowlands of Wales and Spurgeon come to mind. Names of the great Reformers - Calvin, Luther and Knox - were all believers in these doctrines of grace and yet, under God, they saw entire nations transformed. Can we really charge these men with uncaring ease as to whether or not sinners were saved?
William Carey is known as the "Father of Modern Missions?" What does this title tell you about a desire for lost souls?
Yet Carey was a "5 point Calvinist" as indeed were other mighty evangelists including David Brainerd, William C Burns and Henry Martyn and a glorious host of others.
B) WHY EVANGELISE?
Why do you think? See before on why do we pray?
See also: Mark 16:15/Matthew 28:20
There is no doubt that God can do things without human involvement (Creation) but it pleases Him, for His own glory, to use human instruments of whatever moral standing i.e. righteous as well as wicked: Esther 4:14/ 2 Chronicles 36:22
C) WHY CALVINISM ENCOURAGES EVANGELISM:Consider if Arminianism is right. God has done all He can to save the sinner and ultimately it is up to man's free will to decide. God cannot lean on man's free will any lest He be accused of invading man's sovereign citadel. How does this scenario enthuse the gospel worker? What comfort can he draw as he hopes for a successful soulwinning ministry?
On the other hand…what comfort do you think Dr Bennett Tyler drew from the word of God to Paul in Acts 18:9-10 when He said: Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. Dr Tyler entitles his message on this text: The doctrine of election: the only ground of encouragement to preach the gospel to sinners.
Which of the two systems of thought actually ensures success? A sovereign God who gives mercy to whom He will or Sovereign Man totally able to frustrate every effort God makes to try and save him?
Tyler asks: What encouragement was there for Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones, unless God had determined in connection with his preaching to reanimate the dead?
D) IN EVANGELISM, WE PREACH THE GOSPEL IN AN INDISCRIMINATE FASHION TO EVERY CREATURE.
Calvin rightly pointed out: "The gospel is preached indiscriminately to the elect and to the reprobate…" (Commentary on Isaiah) And again: "As we cannot distinguish between the elect and reprobate, it is our duty to pray for all who trouble us, to desire the salvation of all men." (Psalm 4:283)
Robert Murray McCheyne preached on the text from Proverbs 8 where Wisdom issued the following summons: "Unto you O men do I call" McCheyne very wisely answered those who would object to coming on the excuse that they "were not elect": "The question is not: Am I one of the elect…but am I one of the human race?" Man has no reason to stay away from Jesus Christ. They all began to make excuse - but an excuse is not a reason.
E) AN ARMINIAN PRAYING FOR SUCCESS IN EVANGELISM IS REALLY A CALVINIST AT HEART:Is this not true? Surely in praying, there is a recognition that God has not done all that He could to save the soul…but that further divine intervention is required. Are we really asking God to do something more? Consistent Arminianism would spend all its time pleading with the sinner to exercise his final choice. Calvinism both pleads with God and the sinner, knowing that God has the last word in saving who he will and that He uses the pleading of the preacher to accomplish that great end.
THE HORRIBLE CURSE OF HYPER CALVINISM:
Much of what men father on Calvin and Calvinism should actually be directed to those whom we call hyper Calvinists. A hyper Calvinist is not merely a zealous Calvinist. He denies certain truths central to the Calvinistic system of thought.
The hyper Calvinist does not believe in the free indiscriminate offer of the gospel, reserving it only for those who show signs that they are among the elect. So strong is the argument from Acts against them, that the articles of the Strict Standard Baptists (hyper Calvinists) declare: that it is unsafe from the brief records given of the way that the apostles preached to derive absolute and universal rules (Article 32) and this leads on to the claim that ministers ought not to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation to call upon them to repent, believe and receive Christ. (Article 33) The Hyper Calvinists believe that to exhort men to so believe etc., implies creature power and therefore they desist. We ask…why then did the Apostles in Acts 13 not desist? What is so dangerous about the God's word which at length shows the Apostles preaching (Acts 13) reasoning (Acts 17) etc., in mixed/hostile situations?
B) The Calvinist believes that man is both responsible to repent (Matthew 11:20/22) and believe (John 16:7-9) although because of sin unable (John 6:44) This (under God) forces the sinner to realise his total helplessness, so that he cries out for salvation. Hyper Calvinists believe that since man is not able to believe, then he is not responsible. But since man lost his spiritual abilities, through the fall, this would absurdly mean that man could sin away his responsibilities. This hampers evangelism - kills it - but not the Calvinism which we believe. See above.
C) Hyper Calvinism restricts all the offers only to the elect and says that you cannot avail of them unless chosen in Christ. It leads to inordinate subjectiveness "Am I elect?" causing the enquirer to look within and not to Christ. True Calvinism encourages the sinner to look with hope to Christ, emphasising the "whosoevers" of scripture and assuring him that if he comes, then he will find mercy etc., and so give evidence that he is indeed elect. Many hyper Calvinists do not have assurance of salvation. In avoiding the pit of easy believism, they have fallen into the opposite ditch. Either way, Satan sits entirely satisfied. If he cannot rob the believer of his salvation, he can certainly rob him of his joy, assurance and usefulness. He has certainly done so through this horrible curse of hyper Calvinism which is to be avoided and opposed like the plague. See the door saying "Whosoever will may come" Enter in and you will see it say: "Chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world" As far as we are concerned, every man is potentially elect. God's secret decree is His business: Deut 29:29
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