Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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We sometimes get a response to our various articles, especially on Calvinism. I intend to reproduce some of the emails below, essentially as received but usually with the sender's name replaced with their initials (purely to protect their anonymity) The sender's email appears indark blue. My response, as ever, in red:
Received 23-1-05How does one reconcile this? All things are decreed by God. Nothing happens apart from His decrees. Isaiah told Hezekiah that "You shall not live, that you shall surely die." This is an unchangeable decree, and God cannot lie. Yet, God changes His mind, (yet God does not change) and gives Hezekiah 15 more years to live. Hope you can help me. And thank you for your web site. God bless you, and yours! Lamont. Hi, Thanks for writing. Ultimately, whatever age Hezekiah died at, that was the age which God had eternally decreed would be the case. I always use the illustration of a twisty road which meanders here and there. This is the way God often takes His people. He doesn't have to take us by the direct route. God did not "change His mind" otherwise He does change (Can't have it both ways) Calvin comments that the original statement about dying and not living was not with the force of a decree, but was given to test Hezekiah's faith (Comments on Isaiah 38) It certainly is a hard one to grasp, never mind explain. However, the main lesson is that it is only the things which actually come to pass which are ordained by God. When in doubt about the Lord's will…pray to Him about it! Colin.
Received 23-1-05Dear Brother Maxwell, I happened to find your article, http://www.geocities.com/cfpchurch/cloudcalvinism.html and want to thank you for pointing out the truth about Calvinism to Mr. Cloud. Hi, Thanks for your email. I always like to get feedback of any kind, and especially encouraging feedback like yours. I have emailed Mr Cloud on a number of occasions about his various writings against Calvinism, but to no avail. My problem with him is not so much his opposition to the Doctrines of Grace - that's life - but the subtle and not so subtle way he has of setting forth our position or, what he thinks and wants to think our position is. A very generous pinch of salt is sometimes needed.
My wife and I have been Christians for 25 years. We were Roman Catholics that the Lord saved through the Charismatic movement in 1979. We later left the RC church and joined an Assembly of God Church during the Jim and Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert era, then we joined a non-denominational mega church for a while and then moved to an area where we joined a small Bible Church. I know that we were saved in 1979, but it took 23 years before the Lord opened our eyes to His sovereignty by sending a pastor to the Bible Church that was a hyper dispensationalist who began teaching that repentance is not a requirement for salvation, but that we all need to do good works in order to earn our inheritance in the millennial kingdom, or avoid being cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, at the judgment seat of Christ, etc. In questioning these teachings, the Lord graciously led us to the doctrine of Grace and an appreciation for the writings of the reformers, especially Calvin.May God richly bless your ministry. K&E C, IL. USA Truly God is good. Even the Children of Israel had to meander here, there and yonder (and that for 40 years) before they got into Canaan. When we arrive late into the promised land, we [i] appreciate it more [ii] are able to sympathise with and better still, help others who are in the errors we were once in. I enjoy reading Calvin myself. I currently have a bookmark in his commentary on Genesis and I am really enjoying it. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 12-1-05Dear Colin. Thank you very much for your website, especially the information on Calvinism. Thanks for writing to us. It is appreciation like yours that encourages us to take the time on this part of our ministry. Your articles on David Cloud have been very helpful. I had previously read his views, which gave me doubts regarding the doctrines of grace. I think David Cloud is too selective in his criticism of Calvinism. While he does mention in his main article some of the good points of Calvinism, he compromises this elsewhere by repeating Hunt's allegations against these very matters. With all his talks about books and phone calls etc., I don't think he has done his homework or has his mind made up before he started. I made the mistake of agreeing with his views on music and ecumenism and trusted him too readily with Calvinism. I basically agree with him on the music issue and ecumenism, although at times, you get the overall impression that he is boxing himself into a Fundamental Baptist cocoon. It really is a matter of taking each issue individually and checking everything out. Now I am making up my mind with God's help where I stand regarding these teachings! I think that right now I have one foot on the fence and one foot on the Calvinist side! You should find the pages on our Calvinist index page helpful here. If you have the time, try the Bible studies…say one every few days and get your Calvinistic faith rooted in the Scriptures. Here it will stand the test every time. Yours Sincerely, RS Thanks for writing again. Colin.
Received 8-1-05Mr. Colin Maxwell, Cork Free Presbyterian Church, Dear Sir, Thank you for your very interesting site, especially the topics on Calvinism, my only concern is that it is not easy to find again when one comes back to it after two or three weeks. Hi. Thanks for taking time to write to us. I suggest you include our site among your "favourites" Then you can return to it again and again.
However, I write to say, I do not know if you are aware or not, but both Dave Hunt and Dave Cloud are at it again. Hunt has recently republished his book, What Love is this? A book which no decent Christian publisher will nowadays handle, he has decided to assault the intelligence of Christians and Calvinists in particular by publishing, in-house this time, a new edition of the same dribble, there is nothing new, though it has been entirely retypeset, lengthened, and now is presented in hard-back form only (according the James White’s web-site). Has the man lost his marbles, or what? Many Calvinists, including yourselves, have written to him, condemning the badly researched book when it was first published by a company who has since gone out of business, but he arrogantly refuses to head the warnings and because of his own self-importance has decided to have it reprinted and published in-house, though with few, if any changes to his main thesis.I was aware that Hunt republished his book and I know that Cloud occasionally lets the odd blast against Calvinism. There does not seem to be any change to Cloud's article mentioned below, apart from adding some in site links at the end. So my review of this particular article still stands. I don't take Hunt seriously at all, and I tend to view Cloud as an unreliable critic of Calvinism.
David Cloud in one of his latest web articles has recently revamped and enlarged his own document, entitled: THE CALVINISM DEBATE: WHO IS THE ENEMY? I’m afraid the debate must go on for another year yet, it seems.Yours in Christ Jesus, DQ. These things will be debated until the end of time. As Spurgeon said, "If there is one doctrine in the world which reveals the enmity of the human heart more than another it is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Men will bear with you unto that word, but when they hear the Lord’s voice saying, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion," they gnash their teeth and call the preacher an Antinomian, a High Calvinist, or some other hard name. They do not love God except they can make him a little God; they cannot bear for him to be supreme, they would fain take his will away from him and set up their own will as the first cause, and say, "These be thy gods, O Israel." (MTP 18:266) Colin.
Received 2-1-05OK Back to the public dialogue :) Thanks again, Michael, for your response to our discussion begun below in December.
You wrote:"Furthermore, if God so intervenes to prevent men from doing what they willed to do, then we cannot say that their will is free at all, but subject to the intervening will of God who has a plan that He will enforce, come what may. You are not that far from "Calvinism" with language like that!" Whilst God does intervene and direct the course of human history, it is equally true that God's preventive will does not always happen. In most times, God permits / allows human choices and actions which are directly contrary to his perfect and purposive will. My qualm with the Calvinian doctrine of eternal decrees, is that they believe that God determines "whatsover comes to pass" (as the Westminster Confession says). This includes human decisions, and even human sinfulness. Surely if God's preventative will does not happen, then evidently He did not want to prevent what He ultimately allowed. If He has ultimately allowed something, He had always purposed to do so, because He is not subject (as we are) either to mixed emotions, or doubts, or changes of mind, or any circumstances that make His decisions uncertain. Once you allow that God intervenes at all in the affairs of men, then ultimately you are looking at classic Calvinism. Deny this truth and, at least logically, you are looking at a limited God. A limited God is not God at all. As for the WCF teaching that God ordains whatsover comes to pass; the proof text (Ephesians 1:11) is saying practically the same thing which it says that God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11) Ultimately, without (I hope) sounding somewhat patronising here or in any way bombastic, your problem is not with Calvin, but with Paul and ultimately with God as He has revealed Himself in His Book.
Reformed theolgian, John Frame, wrote: "It is important to see that God does in fact bring about the sinful behavior of human beings, whatever problems that may create in our understanding. However we address the problem of evil, our response must be in accord with the great number of Scripture passages that affirm God’s foreordination of everything, even including sin." (No Other God, 2001, p. 68) Human responsibility just flew out the window!Without studying all that Frame said on the matter, it is like this: If God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11) including sinful events e.g. the Cross (Acts 2:23) then it may be said that even sinful behaviour comes within the gambit of His sovereignty. This is clearly taught in the Bible. What is also taught is that God is not the author of sin and that man is responsible for His sinful actions. If you asking me to reconcile all these truths…the answer is simply "I can't" Furthermore, I don't even have to try. I am just the postman delivering the mail. Sometimes when I preach, the emphasis goes on God's sovereignty (where the passage demands it) Other times, the emphasis goes on man's responsibility (where the passage demands it) I never preach the one to the exclusion of the other, no matter where the emphasis is in the particular passage. God gets all the glory…sinners get all the blame. I cannot see how Frame's words - as they stand - goes against your "God wanted Y to happen" scenario below. Whatever happens, does so because God ultimately wanted it to happen. Yours in Christ, Michael. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 2-1-05Sir: First, let me say that I do not endorse Calvinism or Arminianism. I am an old fashioned Bible believing fundamentalist who attempts to get at the real truth of scripture by studying the original Greek and Hebrew, and other languages if I can. I believe the Bible if it uses the word Elect, Predestinate, etc. and if I can find that the word means what we think it does in the 21st century. Hi. Thanks for your email. I appreciate you taking time to write. The secret is to discover what the Bible words meant when they were first written. The AV translation is pretty accurate in these things.
I have come to a conclusion: it must be a fact that either Calvinism or Arminianism is wrong. The argument has been in progress for centuries, and no one has set down with his enemy and asked how this matter can be solved. I believe that Jesus says in Matthew if you come to the altar with your gift and conclude that you have "ought" with a brother, you leave your gift at the altar and go solve the problem with the brother. From that it seems that both sides are "picking" and choosing" those scriptures that fits their human belief and making that their doctrine.I think this statement is somewhat rash. First of all, why should Calvinists or Arminians view each other as enemies? We recognise each other as Christians with a different view on some parts of Scriptures. Furthermore, you are in no real position to say what people have been doing. I talk regularly to Christians with other opinions on these things. We both exchange views etc., and usually at the end agree to differ. If we never worshipped God until every last doctrinal dispute was settled, then God would never be worshipped. I understand Matthew 18 to refer to some personal grudge etc.,
It is because of arguments like this that I do not go to church and listen to the petty humanistic beliefs without any Bible doctrines to back them up. Then, they usually get to a point where they say, "Well, if I don't get my way, I'll just start my own church." Usually the church ends up being theirs and not Jesus Christ's.I am not sure whether you mean you do not go to church at all…at all, or that you do not go to hear humanistic beliefs. If the first, then you are in direct disobedience to Hebrews 10:25. If the latter, then no true Evangelical goes to hear humanism. Just because there is a division between the two main schools of thought (Calvinism and Arminianism) it does not follow that both these doctrines are wrong.
Who does your church belong to: Calvinism or Arminianism?Neither. We "belong" to Jesus Christ. However, if you want to know where we stand on the issue you have raised, we are happy to be known as a Calvinist church.
I remember that the Bible says, "Let man be a liar, and God be true," Both of those people were men and not gods.True, although I don't know any Arminian or Calvinist who believes that their champion is a god. May the Lord bless you in every endeavor. Thank you; WW. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 15-12-04Hi Colin, Thanks for your response. I appreciate the tone of your writings on your webpage, and that you consider Arminian Christians to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Many Calvinists whom I've corresponded with are quite adamant that Arminians teach a different gospel and even a different Christ! Thanks, Michael, for writing again. I unfortunately have to accept your charge (although it does work the other way round i.e. "The god of the Calvinists is a monster" etc.,) I think it is more accurate to say that Arminians present a somewhat diluted gospel. If these folk who want to damn all Arminians thought about it, who would be saved? Are you saved when you simply trust the Lord as your Saviour, or are you saved when you are able to conscientiously and intelligently sign the WCF or some other Calvinistic creed? I was a Christian for about 2-3 years before I came into Calvinism. Should I date my conversion from the day my face lit up knowing that the Doctrines of Grace were true? (You wrote) "In closing, I think it should be pointed out, that it is a logical absurdity to say that God foresees something happening and then ordains it. If He foresaw it, then it was certain to happen whether He foreordained it or not. How could God not ordain something to happen if He foresaw it happening anyway?" Well, if God foreknows that A would do X instead of Y, but God wants Y to happen, then He can prevent A from doing X. As Jack Cottrell said: Such foreknowledge gives God the genuine option of either permitting or preventing men’s planned choices, and prevention is the ultimate control. James 4:13-15 chastises the man who blithely says, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." But wait a minute, says James. You are not taking account of God’s sovereignty. "Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’" In other words, it is not wrong to have plans, but we should always acknowledge God’s power to veto them (as in Luke 12:19-20). This is the significance of Prov 19:21, "Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand" (see Prov 16:9). (Cottrell, The Classical Arminian view of Predestination, p. 27, forthcoming) Yours in Christ, Michael. We seem to moving away here from God knowing what will happen to what God knowing what would happen if He did not intervene to prevent it. This leads you effectively to say that "A would have picked X instead of Y if he had been given the chance…but this if is redundant because he never was given the chance and indeed never would be, since before he ever had the opportunity which he was never going to get anyway, God irreversibly wanted Y, determined that Y it was and Y it always would be." (You will probably need to reread this sentence, but it does make sense. I have just piled on the words to make the point.) Furthermore, if God so intervenes to prevent men from doing what they willed to do, then we cannot say that their will is free at all, but subject to the intervening will of God who has a plan that He will enforce, come what may. You are not that far from "Calvinism" with language like that! I accept that the problem of sin in the world will cause us both headaches, but your view of foreknowledge doesn't slacken the rope any more than my view of fore-ordination. You allow that God could have intervened, but chose not to. Why did He not? Especially when He intervenes in other situations, preventing more sin from taking place e.g. when he prevented Abimelech from defiling Sarah (Genesis 20:6) Ultimately, because He wanted A (for Adam) to pick X (for the forbidden fruit) instead of Y (for the fruit of any other tree) Another headache…how do we both come to understand that God can do these things and remain pure? Answer is, we don't, we just accept that He can and worship Him and ever seek to conform to His will as it is revealed in the Bible. With all of God's sovereignty, I am still conscious that I am a responsible human being and I seek to live accordingly. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 12-12-04Dear Pastor Colin Maxwell, I've read your webpage: SOME ANTI CALVINIST WEB PAGES BRIEFLY REVIEWED I used to be a Calvinist for 10 years, and have written a brief introduction of my pilgrimage from Calvinism to Arminianism in my paper on determinism and freedom. You can view it here: www.determinismandfreedom.blogspot.com
By no means am I an "anti-Calvinist", and I'm sure that you will agree that I haven't misrepresented my former beliefs. Any comments would be appreciated. Yours in Christ, Michael J. MeiringHi. I appreciate you taking time to read the above web page and also to write to me. I downloaded your article and read it quickly over this morning. It is, however, the kind of article you need to nearly go through line by line over a period of time and think long and hard about (Not a bad thing!) I appreciate the tone of the article and acknowledge that you raise some good points which are hard to answer. To be brief about the matter, I am quite happy with the position that God really has ordained whatsoever comes to pass and yet I am absolutely responsible for my actions. When I sin against God, my conscience smites me. It never crosses my mind to find an excuse in the sovereignty of God. I did it…I should repent and seek forgiveness. On the other hand, if I do something good e.g. take an unpopular stand for God and defend/proclaim His truth in very uncomfortable circumstances, I never feel I should praise myself, but give God all the glory. Sometimes if we try and find where divine sovereignty and man's responsibility meet, we are in danger of diluting both. I think they are best left as absolute as possible and both applied to every situation. Although Judas did what was determined for him to do (Luke 22:22) yet he blamed himself when his conscience smote him: "I have betrayed the innocent blood" - Matthew 27:4 and the Bible also indicts him: "Judas by transgression fell" (Acts 1:25) I remember struggling with the old chestnut when I was but new to the Calvinist faith: "Was Judas born to be damned?" My more mature answer to that would simply be: "Judas was born to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever…and failed." I don't have to go any further than that. No doubt the Lord has many things yet to say to us. Whether we can bear them now is another matter. In closing, I think it should be pointed out, that it is a logical absurdity to say that God foresees something happening and then ordains it. If He foresaw it, then it was certain to happen whether He foreordained it or not. How could God not ordain something to happen if He foresaw it happening anyway? Thanks again for writing. Colin. P/s Try and email me with stuff like this in the middle of the week. Monday mornings are rough enough without further taxing my brain :-)
Received 7-12-04Hi Colin, Hope you are keeping well. I'm curious on your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4. ("Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.") Some Calvinists say it means all as in all the elect of John 6:37, others say it means all kinds of people and others say it means a desire to save all people but not a decree. (as in the sense of the Lord regretting making man in Noah's day or regretting anointing Saul as king) What way would you interpret it? It is a tricky issue, just want to get different opinions of all spectrums, God Bless you, PT (Republic of Ireland) Hi. Thanks for your email. One thing is sure, God does not will to save all men without exception with the force of a decree…otherwise all men would be saved (Universalism) This leaves us with either "all kinds of men" i.e. the elect with the force of a decree (Traditional Calvinist interpretation) or the Spurgeon view that it is "all men without exception" but with less than a decree. I think it all hinges on the force of the word "will" There are two main Greek words, one meaning "mere" desire (which is used here) and another stronger word meaning with deliberate design (used in Romans 9:19 "For who hath resisted His will?") which would refer to the decree. This would seem then to point us in Spurgeon's direction. One thing is sure though, we need to be evangelising every last person we meet. The gospel is not for awakened sinners only, but for all men, as Calvin put it, elect or reprobate. Thanks again for writing Colin.
Received 24-11-04I came across your web site today and I agree with what you are writing about Calvinism. Although I don't bear the name of any man, only Jesus Christ, I appreciate John Calvin and all the other men who wrote and believed the doctrine of grace, sharing with us. Hi! Nice to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate your position on labels, although I don't fret too much about them. They are necessary in an age of confusion. It is only my saving union with Jesus Christ which will get me into Heaven in the end.
I am having problems in my family. Although all my family are believers in Jesus Christ and are in Baptist Churches, and I believe they are born again, they think that my husband and I have "departed from the faith" Some of them are in Independent Baptist Churches, the rest are in Southern Baptist Churches.Departure from the faith, (taking you literally) as defined by the Bible, is apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1 Greek) If they think that Calvinism is apostasy, then they have just jettisoned millions of Christians and damned many of the great heroes of the faith. They probably sing the hymns of these apostates, probably use their translation (See below) and probably use their commentaries (Matthew Henry etc.,) If we use the term "apostate" to denounce those with whom we disagree on any less than fundamentalist doctrine, then we lessen the force of the word when we use it against those modernists etc., who really have departed from the faith.
My husband and I live in a small town in south central Kentucky. Albany has Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Freewill Baptist, Separate Baptist, and United Baptist Churches. My husband Jim and I are born again believers and are members of a Southern Missionary Baptist Church. Our church is the only Southern Baptist Church here, that preaches, and teaches the doctrine of grace. Our pastor is a Calvinist. I teach piano, and last week, I felt that I should speak to one of my Christian students and share my testimony with her. She started smiling, and said "that is just the way we believe" they attend a United Baptist Church here in our county. She said that her pastor is Calvinist. I just praise God to know that where there was one, now there are two. I believe that the teaching of doctrine of grace is popping up everywhere. I realize that I may not be wording this exactly right. I trust that you will know what I mean. I told someone, the doctrine of grace is not Calvin's doctrine, it is Bible doctrine and John Calvin taught it. Are you familiar with Don Fortner's web site? I read his articles and I am so happy that I ran across yours.I think people are getting more and more wearied with the man centered emphasis of the free will doctrine. The church growth movement has more attachment to the Non Reformed side of things than it has to the Reformed. This is not to say that Calvinists will not or have not gone down that road…just that they have to abandon their base completely to do so. No, I am not familiar with Don Fortner's site.
I need to ask you, about a comment in yourarticle about the KJV (which we use) did I understand you that the translators of KJV were Calvinist. Were they not of the Anglican Church. I read that King James adopted that Church when he inherited the throne. Are the Anglicans Calvinist? I would appreciate a reply by e-mail if you have the time. The Anglican Church has a Calvinistic creed (Article 17 of the 39 Articles on predestination is stoutly Calvinist) and many (if not all) the translators were Calvinists. King James, himself, was a politician, rather than a church man. The whole Stuart line did not excel themselves and I cannot vouch that he was even a Christian, never mind a Calvinist. Anglicanism in the past has produced some giants of the faith, from the Reformers (Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer etc.,) right through Whitefield and Wesley and John Newton etc., to men like Bishop JC Ryle, Hanley Moule and TC Hammond. Unfortunately today the glory really has departed from the Anglican Church.
God bless you. In Christ, PBThanks again for writing. Glad our web site has been encouraging you. Colin.
Received 13-11-04Dear Pastor Maxwell, The "world" is simply the Elect Jews and also the rest of the "world" of the Elect Gentiles. "World", "all", and "any" simply includes from the Gentiles. In Christ Jesus, JC Hi. As we indicate below, there are differing views among 5 point Calvinists. Bishop Ryle, in his comments on John 3:16, lists a number of Calvinists (including Calvin) who share the view that the world is not merely the "world of the elect" but the "world of elect and reprobate" alike. It is out of this world that the "whosoever believes" and so evidence the greater love which God has for His own elect. However, whatever our disagreements on this one verse, the important matter is that we do not limit our gospel preaching, but ensure, as Calvin reminds us, that the gospel "be preached indiscriminately to the elect and to the reprobate" If we believe that the gospel promises are only for the elect, we will end up in the bogs of hyper Calvinism. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 12-11-04Dear Pastor Maxwell, I am writing from Chicago and I am Reformed. It isn't always that I run into a defense of the Doctrines of Grace like yours!!! I was searching under "Spurgeon". I am really enjoying your "Some advice to those who take it upon themselves...", and "Taking on Calvinists"! The whole web site is great! Hi. Thanks for your encouraging email. I appreciate you taking time to write. It is always good to encourage each other in the things of God. I passed through Chicago airport once en-route from Buffalo NY to Indianapolis, but that's about it.
Does your Bible read like this, because mine doesn't: For God so loves all the world, that he offers his only begotten Son that anyone who will believe in him wont perish but will gain everlasting lives. I didn't think so! It is all open-ended, future-tense, and man-centered.Actually there are two views on John 3:16 between 5 point Calvinists. There are those who believe that the world in John 3:16 is the world of elect. Others believe that the whole world indiscriminately is intended here in this verse. I tend to run with the latter, although I do recognise that the love which God has for the elect is far deeper than the love He has for the non elect. However, we do need to guard the doctrine of "common grace" which I believe in taught in the Bible.
I agree with your quote from Dabney against over stressing predestination. But it charity or graciousness isn't so much a matter of "proportion" as it is spirit. Sometimes the problem is that we aren't as courageous and simple and direct with Arminians as we should be.I agree and yet there is more to the Bible than the 5 points of Calvinism. Spurgeon said that while he hadn't given up the 5 points, he had gotten 5 more. Sometimes the problem is that we can end up with one string on our harp, hence the disclaimer. It really is a case of "This is what I believe the Bible teaches…now let's get on with it."
But over 95% of the Church is not predestined to the Reformation and in that case then we are really challenging the Sovereignty of God to be fighting with someone--much to our grief--who He has decided will remain in their immaturity. Of course the same is true for fully-Pelagian Roman Catholics who are still under His eternal wrath. Discerning whom to continue the witnesswith is in the teachableness of their spirit. In Christ Jesus, JC It is one thing to fight with people, it is another thing to seek to instruct them in the things of God. I have never let my views on the Sovereignty of God put me off propagating truth whether to doctrinally immature Christians or unsaved Romanists. We witness to all men, yet as you say the teachableness of their spirit goes a long way as to how long and how deep we can go with them. Thanks again for writing. Colin.
Received 10-11-04The whole point in the controversy over the free offer is NOT that the gospel is to be presented to all, after all we all believe that. The real question in the controversy is Does God through the preaching of the gospel desire and intend the salvation of the reprobate as Murray and Stonehouse assert? RH, Pottstown pa. Hi. Thanks for your email. Yes, God is sincere in the offer of the gospel. We cannot charge God with insincerity. It is true to say, as far as the reprobate is concerned, that God did not follow through His sincerity and desire in the offer, with the force of a decree, otherwise they would be saved. None can argue with this. Was Christ sincere when He said that He would have gathered unbelieving Jerusalem but they would not? (Matthew 23:37) If you limit the gospel promises to the elect only, then you have insurmountable difficulty persuading men to be saved (2 Corinthians 5:11) Who can you approach and plead with to be saved? The warrant for coming to Christ is not that a man is elect, but that is he is a sinner. I think McCheyne got it right when he said: "No one ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be of the elect. It is quite true that God has of his mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to come to Him. The question for you is not, Am I one of the elect? But, Am I one of the human race?" (Sermon on Proverbs 8:4: "Unto you O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man" Remains of McCheyne BOT edition p.369) Colin.
Received 6-11-04What does T.U.L.I.P. stand for when discussing Calvinism? Dean T.U.L.I.P. is a man made acrostic (the author of which is unknown) used to marshall together a reply to the 5 objections which the followers of Jacob Arminius made at the Synod of Dort in 1619. [T] stands for Total Depravity. This doesn't mean that everyone is as wicked as they can be (God restrains them) but that sin pervades the whole of man. [U] stands for Unconditional Election where some hell deserving sinners are predestined to everlasting life on the basis of the mercy of God alone i.e. not because of anything done by them. (The rest are justly left to perish in their sins) [L] stands for Limited Atonement or (as some prefer) Particular Redemption. Christ died only with the intention of redeeming the elect. See immediately below for a deeper discussion on the nature of the atonement. [I] stands for Irresistible Grace. This teaches that the elect will not ultimately resist the grace of God which calls them to Him. It is irresistible violence, but irresistible grace. They come willingly because their corrupt wills have been renewed by the grace of God. [P] stands for the Perseverance of the Saints. This means that those so predestinated to eternal life, effectually called and atoned for by Christ on the Cross will persevere through to the end and be received up into glory. Thanks for writing. Colin.
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