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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « John Calvin Goes to the Hawaiian Islands | Main | Images of the Savior (22 – His Speaking in Parables) »

    A clearer understanding of Grace (Testimony)

    This testimony comes from a lady called Analee:

    I will start at the beginning. Before Jeremy and I got married we had a few discussions on what church we would attend. In my heart I new I wanted to stay at my home church, but I was going to submit and go where Jeremy felt God would have us be. I knew this meant that we would being going to CLCC. I loved everyone there, but there were just a few things I did not like about it. I disagreed with their theology and I wished that it had more for the older kids (thinking ahead of when, Lord willing, we had kids). I also just liked going to church with my family.

    Once we were married I began to pray that God would work in Jeremy's heart and show him that we should be going to First Baptist. I also wanted him to see that his theology was wrong. I prayed this way for a while. Like I said above I really liked everyone at church. You were all very warm and inviting to me. But I disagreed with your theology. When things came up where I disagreed I would basically shut it out and think “oh, if they only knew” or “if they could talk to my mom, she could share with them how it really is”. After maybe a few months of this I realized God did not seem to be answering my prayer (my way) at all. Jeremy was not showing any signs of changing. The Lord began to lay it on my heart that maybe I was praying the wrong way. He showed me that I needed to be praying for Him to change my heart about going to CLCC. So I did pray that way and noticed a change. This was around the time that small groups started and that really helped tremendously. I found my self enjoying church even more and getting more out of the messages. I still strongly disagreed about some things, but was not as critical about it.

    So I went on this way for awhile. I still missed and still do miss going to church with my family, but I truly felt like God had in a sense given me a new church family. I feel this even more now since I agree with the doctrine. But at that time I did not. I thought I would never change my theology, but I would just try not to make a big deal about it. Theology was not something Jeremy and I could talk much about, because I would get upset and get on the defensive. All along though Jeremy was very sweet and patient with me.

    When Phil and Eric talked to us about helping out with the Children's Ministries I was pretty excited. I told Jeremy, this is one of the reasons I was unsure about CLCC. I come from a church with a good youth ministry and it was something I wanted for our kids (not that our church has to be like the one I came from-that is not at all what I mean). I felt like the Lord was saying “here is something you complain about, so here is your opportunity to help out”. But I also new that I disagreed with your theology and I was not planning on changing my thoughts at all, I was pretty hardened against it. I also knew and understood that it would probably be important for me to agree on these things to take on this role. I did not and do not blame you at all for feeling this way. For this reason I tried not to get my hopes up about the position.

    Jeremy and I set a date with Phil and Sandy to discuss my different beliefs. And for the next few weeks I studied out my beliefs and went over things with my mom and grandma (who have also studied Calvanism, and I thought they had all the answers I needed to stump the opposing view). I tried to prepare myself and prayed about it a lot.

    When we went to meet with the Phil and Sandy I thought I was ready. I did not stump any one. I went away with more questions of my own. Phil told us kindly, that if I could not agree on Total Depravity (I did agree but not to the extent that is needed) then we would not be able to have the position. He also said that he thought that I would eventually come to understand it as we watch John Ressinger DVDs. I sat there and thought “well that is not going to happen. I hope no one will be upset, but I am not changing my mind.” I also felt a sort of peace about not having the position. On the way home I told Jeremy that I was not going to change my mind concerning my theology, and I told him that I hoped that I did not let him down. I really did not want to hurt anyone especially my husband.

    The next day I called up my mom and told her the questions that were brought up at the meeting the night before. She then went on to try to explain them in a way that would go along with what I believed at the time. So when Jeremy got home I told him what she said and then he just came back with more facts that gave me more questions I would have to ask my mom about. So he asked me very nicely “Analee, do we have to change your moms mind to get you to change your mind”. I thought about it for maybe ½ a second then said “yeah, I guess you do”. My mom and I have a very close relationship and I never wanted to do anything that would hurt her or our relationship.
    I began to think about Jeremy's question more and my reply. I knew that their was something wrong there. Is my mom God? Am I accountable to her? Do I seek to please her above the Lord?

    I began to see my pride. It was at this time I really prayed for God to help me look at things through his eyes, and that my priorities would change. I really wanted to have a open, teachable mindset. Jeremy and I were memorizing James 1 at this time and it says that we need to ask God for His wisdom and not doubt that he will give it, so I began to really seek the Lord for wisdom.

    After praying this way and sharing some with Jeremy and my small group things began to change even more. God was humbling me and softening my heart. My eyes were opening to God's truth. It was hard for me to think I was going against what my family had taught me, but I could clearly see things differently. The John Ressinger DVDs and going through John at church have helped me to understand things. I now would say that God (not me) has changed my mind. I still am studying things, but I do agree with the Doctrines of Grace.

    I did not realize how coming to this conclusion would change my life. I often feel like I am reading certain passages of the Bible for the very first time. Songs at church have a whole new meaning to me (I love the last verse of the song “Complete in Thee). I often will hear different sermons over the radio or something and be brought to a different level of thinking (now I have to make sure that I do not begin to get critical about the other side). It has made me feel closer to the church family and more excited about seeing it prosper in every way! Also it has brought my relationship with Jeremy closer. We can talk about theology and not feel tense. I now enjoy discussing these things with him. It used to be that on the way home from church I did not want to talk much about the sermons because I was afraid that Jeremy would think that meant I agreed with them and wanted to stay. It is not that way at all now. I love our conversations on the way home and I love our church and what it stands for. Most importantly is how this has strengthened my walk with the Lord. I was a Christian before all this happened and I felt like I had a really good relationship with Him overall. But now I feel like I know the Lord on a different level, I feel a new kind of love and understanding of Him.. I am enjoying studying His word all the more.

    Posted by John Samson on May 9, 2007 05:30 PM

    Comments

    It's always good to hear testimonies like these. I've met very few Reformed people who started out that way...many came from very different backgrounds, and many (like myself) started out with a goal of proving Calvinism is wrong! The more we study, the more we pray, and the more we think, the more we find that the strength of argument and logic, as well as consistency within the Scriptures, support the doctrines of grace. I remember rolling my eyes and scoffing when I first heard that term..."What kind of grace keeps good people out of heaven because God doesn't feel like choosing them?"

    It's funny to look back on just the last few years and see how much I've changed. I wonder how much more I'll change in the future. This time though, I trust in the sovereignty of God to lead me.

    It took me a while to accept Calvinism. What strongly hindered me from accepting it is that it teaches man does not have a free will of his own. Actually, I thought that it was the most ridiculous idea. Later, when I stumbled accidentally on www.monergism.org, and slowly realized how my impression of Calvinism was wrong, and that it actually closely matches what the Scripture taught, I prayed to God to show me what is right. I thank God that He directed my path to the doctrine that teaches that God is indeed a sovereign God.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    That's a sweet testimony. Thanks for sharing it.

    My wife and I went through a similar period of discovery of the Doctrines of Grace. She's quite the formidable debator and we had some very intense discussions (not fights...really).

    However, as she continued to do her daily Bible reading, especially when she was in Ephesians, she came to me one morning and said, "God's absolute control is on every page...you can't escape it."

    Since that time, I have seen her handle some pretty tough issues with confidence in His goodness and control knowing that every step is ordered by the Lord.

    I grew up in a SB Church with "traditional" SB free will teaching.
    After having what I consider a conversion experience late in life I knew something was not right with the teaching I had received. I started a quest for truth through Scripture and books and websites (like Monergism) and talking to other Christians. I had no idea what Calvinism or Doctrines of Grace meant. Now after 5 years on the journey I have a clear understanding of the truth. Unfortunately, recently I was told that I would not be able to lead any more small groups because my teaching was divisive. Some people had called me a Calvinist and I had used some John Piper resources. I have stayed in a "Free Will" church to maybe help others see the light but now I know it is time to move on. I am discouraged and excited at the same time. I am a Deacon and we have been members at this church for 21 years.

    When reading testimonies like this, and the related comments, I see what worries people about "Calvinism." The problem isn't whether the Bible teaches this stuff or not. The problem is that such a focus on "calvinism" only further reinforces the sheer ism-ness of it. It becomes something that sounds like it has to be foistered on someone - sprung on them by suprise to get them to believe it. It sounds more like a cult because we have to "overcome resistance to it" and "face opposing family members."

    I much prefer "Doctrines of Grace" even thought the mere mention of the word "doctrine" even has it's connotations in the minds of some.

    The other way - the way it happened for me, is that I simply learned these doctrines from nothing more than reading my Bible. (I was [ahem] "saved" outside church, but then started and grounded in an AOG, so I didn't hear a whole lot of serious expositional or systematic Bible teaching). I went to church for fun, but stayed at home and read for learning, and was blessed by the grace of God that he put me in the way of like minded Christians from several different churches.

    I had no idea that the things I was learning were an already established "ism", and I had no intent of learning an "ism."

    But after about a year or two, before I ever heard of such a thing as Calvinism (or Calvin, for that matter), I was THEN exposed to it, and I agreed wholeheartedly the more I heard of it because it was already in line with my own learning. There was no "resistance." There was no "acceptance." There was only, "HEY! That's what I've been saying lately."

    I agree with the principles of Calvinism because when I look back at how I came to be saved, that's how it actually transpired for me!

    If we taught the doctrines of Grace simply as "The bible says this, and the scripture says that", and didn't press the issue of calling it "calvinism", and "You'll get used to it", then I think we'd have a much better go of it.

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