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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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  • « This Week's Features at Monergism MP3 Library | Main | Bill Clinton the "Calvinist" »

    "I remember..." by Pastor John Samson

    I have not always been reformed in my thinking as a Christian. I remember my own journey in coming to embrace the doctrines of grace, certain things impressed me. I was very much impressed that most of the great theologians of the church taught these doctrines of God's Sovereignty. While they certainly had their differences on some things, when it came to election, they were all in complete agreement.

    None of these men individually, or even all of them collectively, could be in any way classed as infallible, yet because they all saw these issues in the same way, I remember thinking that this fact alone should cause me to pause and reflect a little. I realised that it would be the height of pride on my part to dismiss everything they have to say without giving them a fair hearing. God had used these men greatly as his champions in church history; entire nations were affected by their ministries, both in their day and on into our own, and humility would teach me to at least become somewhat familar with their words and works, and not just read what others might say about them with all the bias that usually goes with that.

    However, it was not the greats of church history that carried the most weight with me. It was not their writings and commentaries, as good as they were. What convinced me was seeing the doctrines clearly taught in Scripture. Understanding what Paul taught in Romans 8 and 9 as well as Ephesians 1 and 2 (after dispensing with much of my human traditions in the process) had a huge effect on me. Yet what brought me all of the way over into seeing it, and much more than that, embracing it, and delighting in it, was seeing the doctrines taught through the words of my Master, the Lord Himself.

    I think what was true for me is true for most Christians. Many do not share a love for the theologians of the church, but every Christian loves Jesus. All Christians want to learn of Christ. When I teach Christians these truths now, I usualy start with the clear words of Jesus. I find that there is far more likelihood that people will be open to hear the words of Christ than the words of an Augustine, Luther, Calvin or Edwards.

    I remember being puzzled and even alarmed that Jesus taught parables not so that everyone could clearly understand Him. I was perplexed because this was not what I had been previously taught.

    The text says: "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." (Mark 4:11, 12) Jesus taught in parables so that some would understand and others would not. I remember seeing this and thinking, "wow, that is so different from what I have believed up to this point."

    What amazed me further was Jesus attitude towards His Father's Sovereignty. He did not just accept Sovereignty with some reservations; He absolutely delighted in it. This I could not understand at first. But clearly, Jesus seemed to be so excited about Sovereignty and I was not in any way excited at all; and I wondered to myself, "what am I not getting here? Why is Jesus excited about His Father revealing things to some and not to others?" Whatever the answer was, it was clear that Jesus was excited to see His Father active in revealing or hiding His truth.

    Luke 10:21-22 says, "In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.""

    I remember the moment these two verses impacted me. I realised for the first time that for Jesus, seeing His Father at work revealing truth to some or hiding truth from others was something majestic and glorious. Jesus had no issue with election. Quite the opposite! That is because Jesus saw election the way it should be seen. For Him, it was not in any way ugly. Jesus actually "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit" concerning the way His Father dispensed Sovereign grace.

    Seeing His clear words in John 3, John 6, John 10, John 17.. and so many other places, I began to see that Jesus did not just teach election in some hidden corner. He was very up front about it.

    I remember asking myself this question: "why do some believe and others do not?" Of course, those who believe will be saved, but why is it that some believe and some do not? I was not sure of the answer. Then one day I was reading John 10 and came across these words that were just part of a longer sentence. Jesus was looking at a group of people and said, "you do not believe because you are not part of my flock." (John 10:26)

    I remember being stunned into silence by these words. Rather than escape to my man made traditions for some sort of safety or comfort, for some reason that day, I decided to stop, pause and reflect on these words. I remember looking at the text and reading it over and over again. As I did so I noticed what Jesus did not say.. He did not say "you are not my flock because you do not believe" - He actually said the exact opposite. He said, "you do not believe because you are not part of my flock."

    Arminian teaching has to reverse Jesus words here, but I remember thinking, "who am I to reverse Jesus words?" Of course, I had no right to change the order of Jesus' words here. Instead it was me that needed to reverse my thinking and allow the Master to teach me His truth. According to Jesus, the reason why some believe and some do not, has everything to do with Divine Sovereign election. The reason people do not believe is because they are not part of Jesus' flock.

    There is a lot more I could say, but these things I remember so well as I came to understand these precious truths - truths that at one time were hidden from my view because of the traditions I had. I see this unfolding of His truth as a work of grace in my own heart and life and pray that all Christians will come to know these things too, because it makes grace the amazing thing it is.. when I was dead, it was God alone who brought me to life, and all the glory for salvation rightly belongs to Him.

    Posted by John Samson on February 16, 2009 09:17 PM

    Comments

    Great article Pastor! It really touched me because it is EXACTLY what happened to me ...
    In Christ,
    Martin

    I just feel that this article is shocking in its revelation and something I have thought about but been too afraid I suppose to fully acknowledge because of its exclusion. I think on the one hand i feel truly blessed that I believe and on the flip side feel fearful for those who do not. I think if this article has done anything it has given me an even more urgency to pray, it says in 2 peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE.

    I think it is time us christians stood up and like John the Baptist cry out with an urgency to the nations and to our family,,, REPENT
    because.....

    1 John 5:14,15
    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask ANYTHING according to His will, He hears us.
    AND IF WE KNOW that He hears us, WHATEVER we ask, we know that we have THE PETITIONS that we have asked of Him.
    We know that it is the will of God that none should perish but all should come to repentance,,
    I feel a huge responsiblity to pray by this revelation.
    praise God for His Mercy,,,
    pray pray pray
    repentance repentance repentance
    Thank You for YOUR MERCY AND GRACE LORD AMEN. XXXXX

    Hi Tamsin,

    Regarding 2 Peter 3:9, here is an article I wrote on it some time back: http://www.reformationtheology.com/2005/10/understanding_2_peter_39_by_pa.php

    Hi Pastor John
    Thanks for your testimony. I was save d30 years ago and have been Arminian almost without realising it, I am also baptised in The Holy Ghost and certainly not ashamed of this fact.For the last 14 months I have been more and more absorbed in the whole subject of Reformed Theology and am beginning to believe in it. I suppose there is the slight fear of letting go and feeling confident that I am on safe ground. I certainly have had such a wonderful time with The Lord over these months. There are a number of men that I have listened to including John Piper and R C Sproul whom have helped me a lot, John Macarther is very clear but I could never agree with his veiws on The Gifts of The Spirit. If you could give me any added help I would be pleased. Every blessing in Christ Alan. Incidently I was save in your great country out in California but I am English and live in the UK and work as an evangelist

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