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

STARTING WITH GOD - NOT WITH MAN

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

One reason why many non Calvinists go off the rails somewhat when it comes to the things of God is that they start with MAN. They put MAN in the proverbial driving seat and then allow God to be a passenger somewhere in the back seat with man firmly in control. This leads to all sorts of doctrinal problems, reflected in various statements made in non Calvinist sites. While recently surfing in the swirling waters of an anti Calvinist site, I was told that "God has limited His sovereignty" Surely "limited sovereignty" must mean "shared sovereignty" and if this was not actually stated, it would be extremely difficult to argue otherwise.

As stated above, one reason why fundamental believers - I tend to avoid the sites of cults and neo evangelicals etc., when it comes to Calvinism - believe and state such unsatisfactory things is because they fail to start with God. They start with the idea that man has a free will which is able to chose freely whatever is desired. [Note: The present writer believes that man is a free agent i.e. responsible to God for his actions, but free agency is not to be confused with free will.] They believe (at least in effect) that man has certain rights - even fallen, guilty man - and anything which appears to impinge upon or deny these certain rights cannot be true. Therefore even God's sovereignty must be limited to accommodate them.

On the other hand, if with Paul (quoted above) we start with GOD and not only start with Him, but continue and end with Him, an entirely different scenario emerges. It is worth noting that the Bible itself starts with God: In the beginning God... (Genesis 1:1) This is a principle which is to be adhered to not only in the chronology of the Bible, but in everything else. We must start with God not only in creation...but also in providence and salvation because all are the works of God. We cannot start with MAN and tag God on to the end. God is not a mere helping hand along the way...the God of the gaps which theistic evolutionists have reduced Him to being when the evolutionary side of their theory starts taking in more water.

We have put together a series of Bible studies on the sovereignty of God in salvation. They start with God and they end with God. They begin with the Biblical idea that God has a plan - He is not a hap hazard, happy-go-lucky God - which extends to great events and small. They then proceed to the fact that the greatest matter of all - the salvation of the human soul - is likewise in the plan of God. Having established from the Bible that God is sovereign in all His ways...we proceed then to man and look at him in the Garden of Eden before and after the fall. This leads on to a look at the effects of the fall and God's plan to have man restored again to fellowship with Him.

I believe you will find these studies extremely helpful. If nothing else, you will see where Calvinists are coming from and even if you fail to agree with us, at least you will be aware of where we really stand. It is not in any of our interests to misrepresent the Calvinist position. It slanders fellow believers and robs the critic of credibility. We also deal with the fruits of the Doctrines of Grace with a quick comparison with the fruits of Hyper Calvinism, which is another matter altogether.

Start here with the first study. If you want to let me know how you got on, then email me. We do have a Calvinistic email page also where different folk - Calvinist and non Calvinist alike - have all had their say. Enjoy!

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