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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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  • « Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ | Main | Regeneration: The Key to Believing the Truth »

    Very Dogmatic?

    Here's an e-mail I received today concerning the dogmatic beliefs of reformed people. I provided a brief response and hopefully it will be edifying for others to read.. lets all renounce pride in any form, for it is both very ugly and very subtle, yet at the same time, let us humble ourselves before God's holy word and the truth He has made clear. (My response is in bold) - John Samson

    My son and I go back and forth about reformed doctrine all the time. I try to gleen from both thoughts. The Reformed doctrine is very dogmatic and leaves no room for,"we could be wrong".

    Well both sides cannot be right as they teach mutually exclusive things.. I was once on the other side, so to speak - and while pride and arrogance lurks all around and sadly can often pervade our hearts, where God has made His truth clear, it is not humility to deny this. I believe scripture is clear that human will is not the ultimate cause of our election but God's mercy (Romans 9:16).

    The truth is we are all living in error. There is none righteous, no not one.

    Of course.. but that does not mean we cannot be sure of some things when God has clearly revealed it. I recently wrote an article in which I stated, "It is considered the height of arrogance and pride to say “I know the truth” about something. It is far more palatable to modern tastes to suggest merely that truth is mysterious and that none amongst us can be certain of anything. This seems far more humble, at least on the surface anyway.. and on a human level, it certainly helps us all get along to say “you have your truth, I have mine – and what is true for you may not be true for me, but I certainly respect your truth…” But there’s a big problem with this when we consider that God Himself, Truth personified, has claimed to reveal Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ and in His Word, the Bible. This speaks of truth that is true, whether or not we believe it, or as Dr. Francis Schaefer called it, "true truth.""

    What if you as a reformed believer get to the Gates of Heaven after serving God all your life, and the Lord says,"sorry your name is not in the Lambs book of life, you are not one of the elect".

    No one I know of believes that being reformed saves the soul.. having true faith in Christ the Savior does. All who truly believe in Christ will not perish but will have eternal life.

    You see my Bible says "God is willing that none should parish". If that is God's will then your doctrine is lacking.

    If you are interested I have an article on this verse here. Without doubt, 2 Peter 3:9 is the single most popular verse used to dismiss the reformed doctrine of election, bar none. Usually the meaning of the verse is assumed without taking any time to study it, which is the very hallmark of tradition. In fact, traditions are so strong that many do not even see the need to study the verse because they believe there is no need to do so. I have to admit that I did this for many years. Those most enslaved to their traditions are those who believe they do not have any.

    Of course God alone is responsable for our salvation. But he will never force our will. It's not a work on our part to choose to give our lives to God, it's a choice.

    Unless God intervenes to change the disposition of the sinner's heart, we will always choose against Christ. Our wills are not "free" but inseparably bound by our nature.. we are slaves of sin... no one seeks for God (Rom. 3:11).. unless a man is born again he CANNOT see the kingdom of God and CANNOT enter it.. he CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14), he CANNOT submit to God's law (Rom 8:7,8).. Come we must.. but only when God effectually draws us do we come. Jesus said, "No man can come to Me unless the Father which sent Me draws him..." and this same one drawn is raised up on the last day to eternal life (John 6:44). What we need is not "free will" (a phrase never mentioned in scripture concerning human ability) but wills made free, by the grace of God.

    There are three things the Paul says are important Faith Hope and Love , the geatest of these is love. Not once is doctrine ever mentioned. You should choose love not dogmatism as your foundation.

    Faith, hope and love are essential.. for sure. but I don't think it is wise to quote one thing Paul wrote to deny other things he wrote.. Paul had a passionate love for the truth.. (correct doctrine).. read just about any letter of Paul and this becomes clear.

    When ever I hear a sermon from a reformed pastor he always starts with, "I know what other denomanations believe, but what I tell you is the truth". My Bible tells me that Jesus is the truth not Calvin Not Spurgen, not any man. You can't put God in a box. If God's will is so powerful why did He fail in the garden of Eden.

    God failed??? No, He has never failed.. God planned the Fall.. and God had already ordained that Jesus would die for sinners before creation. He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

    Well He didn't, man made a wrong choice. Just like we have a choice now. "Choose yee this day whom you will serve".

    Of course, we are responsible for our choices and God commands us to choose Him.. but scripture makes it clear that without His grace, we will choose every road that leads to hell..

    It's all about choice not works. If God only chooses whom He will, than He is a bigot.

    Wow.. even when I believed as you do, I would never go as far as to accuse God of bigotry, especially knowing that one day I would stand before the God who inspired Romans 9..

    Romans 9:11-18 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad- in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call- 12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    God loves all men liberally and abraideth not. In others words, we are all given the opportunity to choose Him. "For God so loved the world (cosmos) that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life". The key word, whosoever.

    It may surprise you to find out that "whosoever" is not a word found in the original text of John 3:16.. that's just a fact. It literally reads "all the every believing ones" which is a little difficult to express in English, but certainly the phrase does not speak of human ability but only of the conseqences of believing - that all the believing ones will not perish but have eternal life.

    I do hope you will check out the things I have written here... and examine your traditions.. just as I have to examine mine.. It was a painful process for me, to admit that I could possibly be wrong.. May God cause each of us to be humble before His word.

    Sincerly Michael S

    God bless you Michael,
    John S.

    Posted by John Samson on September 24, 2008 12:54 PM

    Comments

    For someone who doesn't like to be dogmatic, this fellow sure is dogmatic about human free will. But isn't that the way it always is? It's only dogmatism if it disagrees with our own dogma.

    It reminds me of how the liberals begged the fundamentalists to be tolerant and open minded toward them a century ago, and then when they were in the majority, they drove all the fundamentalists out.

    John,

    Good responses from you. The following statement from this person mirrors what so many Christians think now days, because of the "truth is relative" mindset of the culture. I can not help but think this guy's thought process unwittinly mirrors that of Pilate when he said, "38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" - John 18:38

    He says in his letter:

    "My son and I go back and forth about reformed doctrine all the time. I try to gleen from both thoughts. The Reformed doctrine is very dogmatic and leaves no room for,"we could be wrong".............
    The truth is we are all living in error. There is none righteous, no not one. "

    Contrary to his assertion that we can not know truth, Jesus says, ""If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."- John 8:31-32

    Jesus says we can know truth, period. While it is true that all of us have errors in our theology, the core truths of Christianty can be known and known for sure.

    Paul said, "by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." 2 Cor 4:2

    If Paul(or we) could not know truth for certain, then how could we make it manifest to others?

    Also, Peter says, "whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

    Brothers, if we have the word of God on our lips, we must speak it boldy and without reservation. We must speak "thus says the Lord" without fear and without apology. Always speak the truth with humilty and patience, but never with timidity or a false humility which apologizes for it. Real truth by definition is intolerant of lies and error. Let us speak the truth in love.

    In Him who is True,

    Alan

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